I have decided to leave the Catholic church for multiple reasons, but the last straw was their recent pronouncement which equated ordaining women priests to pedophilia. I didn't particularly agree with the idea that a woman couldn't be the vehicle through which the congregation connected to God in the first place, but to put it equal to such a vile corruption of a child? Inexcusable.
I considered a few different churches in my town, and based entirely on websites, the Baptist church seemed the most appealing. It was an active parish, with many activities, and seemed to be a bit younger than the rest. That is important, as our town tends to have congregations that are largely elderly. That was one upside of my Catholic church...youth! Though, it wasn't very active, and I never really got to know many people there.
However, Chris was adament that he was not going to consider the Baptist church, and both of us do not agree with the tenant that alcohol in any form is evil (which is even the largest text on their website). So...onto the next consideration. And, the logical conclusion that anyone might have predicted: the United Methodist church. Many members of my family are Methodist, and I spent substantial amounts of time in the church as I grew up.
I was nervous. It's always hard going somewhere for the first time when you don't know the culture and are alone (Chris was studying). I didn't know where to enter, if I was dressed appropriately, how I would be received, etc... I sat in the car for a good 10 minutes before entering just people watching.
I entered and was mobbed. Alright, that's a bit of an overstatement, but I was greeted by at least 5 people. And then the pastor came over to me after I was seated and chatted. SHE (!!!) said that it was impossible to hide at the 8:30 am mass, since it was small and everyone knew each other. This was not meant to exclude me, but to welcome me with open arms. The service even began with her greeting, and then encouraging everyone to stand up and greet each other for at least 5 minutes. I found this a little awkward, being new, but it was nice.
The sermon was even meaningful, and one that I needed to hear. It involved forgiveness, and one statement particularly struck me. The pastor said, "Forgiveness that does not count the cost is the ultimate value." This needs to imprint on my heart. There is someone in our lives who, for reasons unbenownst to us, has decided to inflict some fairly substantial pain, and then cut us out of his life. It has proven difficult to grant forgiveness. It isn't even a circumstance that it matters to anyone aside from Chris and myself, but I need to forget the cost, and let the weight be lifted from me.
Therefore, the pros: walkable distance, welcoming community, active, varied ages, good music, sermon that spoke to me
The cons: there were no more than 30 people at the service, and I don't know if the other times would be different, this will have to be determined
Regardless of my decision, I think that unlike #20, #30 has been completely satisfied and has been marked off the list!