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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by heckles View Post
    As with the Baptists, you have to carefully pick the shade of Lutheran. Lutherans of the Missouri Synod are not gay-friendly, whereas the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is.
    Yep, I knew about that- my husband "is" (he hasn't gone to church in like 20 years) ELCA. I actually didn't know about the different types of baptists though.

    I sent an email asking some questions to a few of the churches nearby. A few in Iowa City look good, but I'm actually not that close to most of them, and with traffic, it would be a bit of a pain.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    Does anyone have any advice on choosing a church? I haven't attended church regularly for about 13 years. I was raised Catholic, but have major issues with the church so I stopped going. However, there are things about Catholicism that I'm fairly tied to, and so it has been easier to not go to church than to find another one.

    But I miss church. I miss the community and I miss the growth in faith attending church provides (I pray, but that's really it.)

    I just have no idea how to go about finding a church. I'm honestly pretty uncomfortable with the idea of just showing up a few times and seeing what it is like. (Especially because I have no idea how to dress, and I'm scared of people.) I've viewed the websites of various churches and I can tell which ones are traditional and which ones are more modern, but they all outline about the same beliefs.

    Part of the problem is that I'm really liberal....

    So how do you find a church to fit you?
    So I could be you- except I'm in the DC area. But I'm pretty much in the same position, a liberal lapsed-Catholic who would like to find a church I'm comfortable with. My DH was raised southern baptist and I said early on that was out. I've been meaning to scope out some Episcopal (aka Catholic-lite) and Unitarian churches, although DH isn't as keen on the latter (thinks it's too free form). I've been slacking and need to search for a few to visit.

    Good luck!

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by snoopy View Post
    Here is a church in Iowa City that might be worth checking out. It is liberal given away by the following:

    1) Cites itself as open and inclusive
    2) Has a female pastor
    3) Has a belief statement in Jesus but not the Bible.

    http://fbciowacity.org/?page_id=38#nogo

    Thanks for this suggestion- I think I am going to visit them on Sunday. I've never been somewhere with a female pastor, so that may take some getting used to; but her email response to my questions was fabulous. Even to the point that she answered about abortion with "I think most of our members would view abortion as a tragedy, but understand why some women may choose that option". Which is pretty much how I've always summed up my pro-choice views (even if the church isn't pro-choice, the pastor certainly doesn't seem anti-choice!).

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    Does anyone have any advice on choosing a church? I haven't attended church regularly for about 13 years. I was raised Catholic, but have major issues with the church so I stopped going. However, there are things about Catholicism that I'm fairly tied to, and so it has been easier to not go to church than to find another one.

    ]But I miss church. I miss the community and I miss the growth in faith attending church provides (I pray, but that's really it.)
    I was in the same situation. I chose a whole new religion! I became a Jew. It is closer to Catholic than one would think.

    I am not good in new situations, or with strangers, either. If you are going to find a Catholic church, I would recommend the earliest mass. When I was in my teens, I used to go to 6:00 mass...........way less fuss then.

    Good luck.

    You could also try services at a local University. They are generally a more liberal less traditional crowd.
    DH - and that's just my opinion

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    I actually didn't know about the different types of baptists though.
    There's an old Emo Philips comedy skit, "Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or 1912?" Funny stuff.

  6. #26

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    Chiming in here.... I know some Catholics who have switched to the Episcopal Church (which is also a Protestant church), as the doctrine is very similar. I was also raised Catholic, and quit going to church when I was in college and then about 10 years later I went back. It was a very conscious decision for me, made after a lot of thought and some prayer. The parish I found, and still attend 25 years later, is a very post-Vatican II church with some liberal views, though we are still, of course Catholic, and we have been blessed with very pastoral priests, some of whom have become good friends of mine. We have a number of ex-priests and ex-nuns who are members, a number of divorced and re-married folks, and I have seen a few folks who I know are gay, as well. This would not necessarily be true of every Catholic parish around here, of course. So my advice is also to look around. You may want to visit some of the churches around and see what the worship and daily life is like. I, too, thought I would just be able to hide in a dark corner the first time I went. But our worship space is very non-traditional and there actually was no place to hide. So, give some of the area churches a try. If they are not welcoming and friendly, well that may give you an answer.

    On the other hand if you want to try a different church, personally I would look at the beliefs professed by any given congregation. Of course it's important to feel at home with the group you join, in terms of being welcomed and so on, but it's not just a social club, so you should be able to agree with the creed that is professed. Some things are critical, others are not so critical, and you have to think about that and maybe talk about it with someone who you respect. Think about the things that are critical to you, and see what the church community defines as most critical.

    Good luck with it....

  7. #27

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    Even among Catholic churches, attitudes vary, depending upon the focus of the pastor and the parish council. My home parish used to be very liberal under our previous pastor, but he passed away suddenly and his replacement, while still a nice man, is much more rigid in terms of doctrine. I've had a lot of trouble with some of his homilies, the emphasis on politics and the intolerance he advocates toward issues that affect me. (He actually told the congregation that we should not attend gay weddings because it is against the laws of God and supporting a non-traditional marriage makes us and advocate of sin.) So I've been heading over to the other Catholic church in town where the pastor seems more liberal and inclusive. I've also liked what I seen of the Church of England services when I've been across the pond. I don't know how close the American Epsicopal version would be but I think if I were to leave the Catholics, that's where I'd head first.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

  8. #28

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    I suggest trying an Episcopal Church. I think of it as a more liberal (and accepting) Catholic Church.
    -Brian
    "Michelle would never be caught with sausage grease staining her Vera Wang." - rfisher

  9. #29
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    Within almost every "mainstream" religion you will find both commonalities and a wide range of attitudes that can be tied to the local leadership (and may change as the leadership changes). Just because you feel welcomed and comfortable at one church or parish, you shouldn't necessarily expect that feeling to extend to another church or parish of the same religion.

    Doing some research before attending a service would be a good idea but may not tell you everything - sometimes it comes down to how you are greeted at the door. I can attest to that from my own experience.

    In addition to the activities and outreach that may mirror your interests, you might also want to consider things like music - are you a "traditionalist" who prefers an organ (and a robed choir) or are you happy with less traditional music (perhaps guitars and drums) accompanying worship? Do you prefer a quiet service without any music at all?

    In the Episcopal Church in the US and in the Anglican Church in Canada we have experienced "break away" congregations and/or priests who claimed to be "bible-based" and used that as an excuse against things such as same-sex marriage/blessing, female priests, etc. They have affiliated themselves internationally (and within countries) but distanced themselves from the national church and from the Anglican Communion (worldwide).

    FYI, generally speaking, within the Anglican tradition (i.e. coming from the Church of England which originally broke away from the Roman Catholic Church after a disagreement between King Henry the 8th and the Pope of the day regarding a desired divorce) we do not consider ourselves protestant (i.e. coming about from the Protestant Reformation) but catholic. We respect leaders of other faiths including the "Bishop of Rome" (the Pope).

    Good luck in your quest - I hope you'll find a place that "feels right".
    Can't skate but love to watch

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by victorskid View Post
    Within almost every "mainstream" religion you will find both commonalities and a wide range of attitudes that can be tied to the local leadership (and may change as the leadership changes). Just because you feel welcomed and comfortable at one church or parish, you shouldn't necessarily expect that feeling to extend to another church or parish of the same religion.
    As someone who has been Roman Catholic, this is something I'm having to get used to. The fact that some churches are incredibly local, and depend nearly entirely on the leadership. I've gone to about 12 different RC churches. Yes, some had priests who gave better homilies, some had better social events, but the doctrine was identical. The mass was the same except some sang things other spokes, but nearly the same. It didn't matter where you went, because what was being taught at the churches was the same.

    Looking at these other churches, it is really weird to find how much the pastors individual views are what is being taught, since there is either no central authority, or it is much looser than what the RC church has.


    I've found a second church that sounds like it is worth looking into. Overall, it sounds more conservative than the first, but it is much closer to my house, and the pastor tells me that their message is very non-political, which I think is good. I mean, I am looking for a Christian church; I can't expect them to be far end liberal.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue View Post
    My recommendation is to consider the cause(s) you are most interested in, whether it be feeding the homeless, job training, helping children, whatever. Then look for the churches that are most actively involved in that cause in your community. That way you will meet people with similar interests to you.
    This is what I did plus I looked for a church the had active family/child/teen programs with the thought that a church that is interested in those programs is also interested in the future. I live in rural Wisconsin so I understand what you are going through.

  12. #32
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    Just did a quiz on beliefnet.com it said I should be an Orthodox Quaker...

    Finding a church that is a strong fit for me might be tough.

  13. #33

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    Ditto on the recommendations for Episcopal churches. The liturgy is remarkably similar to the RC liturgy, and that's one feature of worship that's important to a lot of RCs/Episcopals/otherwise liturgical folks. UCC and PCUSA (NOT Presby Church in America) are also in the liberal spectrum and gay friendly (though that stance is officially more recent with PCUSA). But yeah, in all these churches you'll find a range of stances/beliefs as far as the faith goes. In the Episcopal church you have one major bishop (Spong) who doesn't even believe in the resurrection and questions whether Jesus was divine (and my response is, "so why are you involved in a Christian church," but that's a whole other discussion) and people who are very traditional/orthodox/"Bible bashing" and everything in between.

    I think the other idea posted upthread--see where churches are involved in the community and whether they take on issues or work with charities that are dear to your heart.

    There are some who really disdain the idea of "church shopping" and contend that you stay with your local church forever and ever, amen. Then there are others who are all, "geez, that espresso bar was really subpar" or "I don't like the way the Sunday school teacher dresses" and change churches constantly, but there's gotta be a middle ground somewhere. Nothing's going to fit perfectly, but if you can find a place that feels right to you--and by that I mean not only does it meet your needs BUT there's also a place for you to serve--then yay.

    (And yes, there are so many different flavors of Baptist, I can't keep track. Also many different "Brethren" types. Very confusing!)
    BARK LESS. WAG MORE.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilJen View Post
    Ditto on the recommendations for Episcopal churches. The liturgy is remarkably similar to the RC liturgy, and that's one feature of worship that's important to a lot of RCs/Episcopals/otherwise liturgical folks.
    Some Episcopalian and other traditionally liturgical denominations have contemporary services, but that's a source of controversy in itself. What's happened in some of those congregations, especially with the youth, is that they grow to like the contemporary worship style and eventually end up switching to unaffiliated mega-churches offering the same worship style. A "gateway drug" of sorts.

  15. #35

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    I don't go to church so this is not a personal knowledge... but my understanding is that Unitarian Church is one of the most accepting.
    improving my ballad- like lines

  16. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by victorskid View Post
    )
    FYI, generally speaking, within the Anglican tradition (i.e. coming from the Church of England which originally broke away from the Roman Catholic Church after a disagreement between King Henry the 8th and the Pope of the day regarding a desired divorce) we do not consider ourselves protestant (i.e. coming about from the Protestant Reformation) but catholic. We respect leaders of other faiths including the "Bishop of Rome" (the Pope).
    I did not know this. Thanks for the info. But surely many people of all denominations respect leaders of other faiths. I hope so, anyway. But thanks for this.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by heckles View Post
    Some Episcopalian and other traditionally liturgical denominations have contemporary services, but that's a source of controversy in itself. What's happened in some of those congregations, especially with the youth, is that they grow to like the contemporary worship style and eventually end up switching to unaffiliated mega-churches offering the same worship style. A "gateway drug" of sorts.
    ... and then there are my kids, who don't particularly care for church but IF they HAVE to go, it had better have (what they consider) traditional liturgy and hymns. As teenagers they didn't like contemporary or "praise" style worship and as mid-20ers, they still don't. I mean REALLY don't!

    My husband and I go to different Lutheran churches, both ELCA. His is a large downtown church that is on the liberal side and has a membership of folks who are generally well-educated and financially stable. Both contemporary and traditional worship services are offered and the music is polished and of a high standard. My church is small, is liberal, and has a membership ship with a substantial number of folks on "society's edge." We barely get by. The music is . . . well, we try! My kid's prefer the smaller, less polished church.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    Just did a quiz on beliefnet.com it said I should be an Orthodox Quaker....
    I read this and wondered whether Orthodox Quakers kept kosher or perhaps celebrated Easter on a later date, but then I read the Wikipedia article on Quakers and discovered that there are theological disagreements even among Friends.


  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoseAugust View Post
    ... and then there are my kids, who don't particularly care for church but IF they HAVE to go, it had better have (what they consider) traditional liturgy and hymns. As teenagers they didn't like contemporary or "praise" style worship and as mid-20ers, they still don't. I mean REALLY don't!
    Your kids have a fortunate preference, because the traditional services in the mainline churches tend to outnumber the contemporary ones, especially on holidays when some of the churches will switch to a completely traditional format. Ironic that the Christian denominations with the contemporary views tend to have the most traditional services, whereas the Christian churches with high A/V technology tend to be theologically closer than Calvin.

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    Speaking as an Anglican (Church of England/Episcopalian) I think I am fairly liberal in my feelings but totally traditional in my choice of services. When my church (attended since childhood) switched entirely to contemporary services, I stopped going. I was never comfortable with the whole, shaking hands, Peace be with you, part - to me it comes across as phoney, but I also always considered myself Protestant, not Catholic, regardless of what the Nicene Creed says. We've had female ministers for probably the last 30 years and all but one of them I liked very much. The one I didn't care for was the one who changed all the services to contemporary. My friends suggested I shop around for a new church too, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

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