“I BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH.” Yes, despite the wide-spread sceptism today about organized religion, I believe in the church. In fact the church has been and continues to be the most important thing in my life. For me, the church has many meanings. It is “The Priesthood of Believers,” “The Communion of Saints,”: The Body of Christ,” “The Community of Faith,” & The “Church Universal” in all its strength and weaknesses, its ambiguities and its imperfections. From the time I was a small child in Northeastern Ohio, my greatest memories center around that small but beautiful, white, New England-style Methodist Church with its hard, brown, wooden pews and its towering steeple where my parents, my brothers and I went every Sunday. I can still remember playing the piano for “opening exercises” and singing in the choir when I was only 12 years old. I remember many of my Sunday School teachers who accepted all my questions and served as role models for me. I remember all the different ministers we had who, though being paid the minimum salary, were theologically sound and encouraging to me even when I came home from college with “whacky” ideas. But, most of all, I remember one teacher in particular who hounded me to go to summer youth institute at Lakeside, Ohio, where I experienced a life-changing conversion experience.
This experience was both the culmination of years of nurturing in my little country church and the beginning of a lifetime of ongoing learning and committment to the church.
Following college I went to Drew Theological School and got my Master’s of Divinity Degree. My life has taken many twists and turns since that time; some of them very painful. But the church has always been my “rock and fortress,” my “center of gravity” that has kept my hope alive and my mind relatively sane.
I have been disappointed by my church and some of the choices it has made in recent years, but I will never leave it. It is still the place where I hear God speak most clearly to me. It is the place where I hear sacred music that sends my spirit soaring. It is the place where the sacraments are administered and I receive God’s grace and it is the place where “two or more” are always gathered to support me. I can’t imagine my life without it.
Yes, I believe in the church!
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