One way my behaviors have changed from my new relationship is that I'm *in* church more on Sundays. I didn't make it today due to insufficient planning and communication, but I'm attempting to act from that place of dedication with online church acts. Today's church to visit was going to be Christ City Church. I selected it because I first saw it's sign inside Minglewood Hall, which houses two concert stages, a hookah lounge, and a tattoo parlor. It was the night I went to the Valerie June concert, the night I said, "This church chose to be between a hookah lounge and tattoo parlor; what do they have going on inside?" The Internet tells me that there services are at 10 am on Sundays and it seems they have moved to an elementary school because that location would put them at an intersection of class and race (or something like that). Okay. A vision for diversity? Pro-active steps to diversify? I can still check you out. The location I saw in an arts district-- Broad Avenue-- seems to be their administrative office. Still, location, location; I'm curious. What I don't like is that their ministers/elders are all male. Is that an official stance, Rev. McIntosh? Perhaps time will tell. Perhaps I will never be drawn so strongly that I especially care. This morning, I listened to a podcast where the pastor preaches from my favorite book, James. He definitely took it directions I did not anticipate and I found myself wanting to listen to his full 45 minute (!!wth?!) sermon. A visit is now an objective for July.
So, the 2014 Memphis church search-- I've been silent so far. I've gone to Robyn's church a few times and agreed to visit it on first Sundays with her-- a reoccurring date of sorts. She goes to visit a church with me at least once per month as well. So far, Freedom's Chapel is the only honest "what's this church like?" trip I've had. It's on my list of churches to visit because it's (or although?) predominately black, it's open and affirming, i.e., fully accepting of LGBT people. The pastor didn't preach the week we went so I have no clue what that's like; Robyn and I both want to go back for that reason. The church spoke of social justice but displayed many aspects of traditional, "black" church services. They spoke of tea parties, gave awards during service, and had the kids write and recite a poem about one of the members. I'm sure there's an Easter program ;). Old meets new-- could be interesting. There are other possibilities on that as well, of course.
Our second church to visit, One Faith Christian Center, is pastored by my cousin. It's like I just wanted to show her my cousin's church. I enjoy the service whenever I visit so maybe I thought she would too? In retrospect, I don't know why I wanted to take her there, but I did. The suggestion was put out there probably before I even knew I would be moving to Memphis; it just took us a while to actually get there. So, once again, I enjoyed the service. I felt that I walked away with lots of inspiring words, metaphorical meat to take me on my way. What I noticed is that there is a bit of pomp and circumstance there. It isn't bad in my opinion, just noticeable. For example, the pastor entered as the choir was singing. On cue, the congregation stood up and waited for him to sit down before taking their seats again. Respect... I guess. When a room full of men do it for a woman entering the room, that's what we call it. Why blast it when done for "a man of the cloth"? So again, just noticeable. I've long seen confirmations that my cousin's call is real-- power is what I've seen to be frank-- now I'm also seeing sincerity in his mission and desires to strengthen and help others. It occurs to me that now that Memphis is again home, I guess his church needs to be on my list of places to consider as my new church home. There are reasons I don't think it'll happen, but perhaps I should give him a fair shot? I've kind of learned not to show up believing I know what kind of church I'm looking to join. Generally, that image has not been where I landed. So, I can say that traditional is not my anticipation but it can happen. There are things within tradition that I like so why not? haha
Last, there's Robyn's church that I should now consider as a potential home church. Sadly, I don't naturally feel that pull. That being said, some sermons grab me more than others and I'm sure that I have to look outside their sanctuary to decide rather or not it's the place for me. I do that extra step for all churches receiving serious consideration; hers is no different. If I do happen to fall for it and she and I don't work out, there would be the awkwardness of us being in one body as happened for her and her ex. Her ex left, which worked out nice for my gf. If we do work out and I actually join and love another body, that can be awkward because we wouldn't necessarily have that oneness that some families have on Sunday mornings. As is, I enjoy the oneness we get at least twice per month. I don't think she quite knows how much I appreciate her slipping out of her congregation, even if only once per month, to join me elsewhere. Likewise, it's nice that it means so much to her for me to join her inside her spiritual, structural home.
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