This year has been an odd Lenten journey. With an early Easter and the snowiest winter in Boston history, I know the grey piles of snow will abound on Easter morning when for (I think) the first time in my life, I will not be attending an Easter service. I’m not sure if I’ll return to the church (that being said, I know I will go with a few people on specific occasions) as a member. A few reasons, if only to clear my own mind:
- You asked for membership dues. No, I am not kidding. I pledged. My pledge is my offering to the church for the operating budged. The membership dues should be a fixed line item on the budget. I understand the need for campaign funds, grant challenge funds; I gave to those as well.
- I need ritual. Yes, this is a “free” church tradition but free-church does not mean the absence of ritual. The extended dance version of the passing of the peace is not the only ritual. Our liturgies are full of rituals.
- Ok, look, I get gender inclusive language is a thing in the church right now. But like changing the national anthem, the changing of the words of The Lord’s Prayer ranks among one of the “traditions” that will make me scream internally or on social media. Maybe I just have an advanced degree in feminist thought, but as a lesbian, I am not oppressed by the prayer. Just don’t ask my Greek professor to relate my translation (it was pretty funny). There is something sacred and holy about saying the words that your great-great-great grandparents said in worship.
- I watched you embrace people into your church: you know, the young, married couples with/without kids, the couples, those under 30. I understand that churches (in general) see these as “growth” opportunities. But I am still me: I’m not sorry I come without a child, some days I wish I had a partner.
- Every year, I checked the boxes saying where I was interested in serving in the church. Every year, I’d read about the nominating committee having a hard time finding people to fill positions (often ones I’d learn at the annual meeting, I’d expressed an interest in). I was never asked to participate. The one time I did participate, I was not re-appointed. No reason given. No feedback.
- The extended dance version passing of the peace is the singular most hellacious experience I forced myself to endure for over 150 weeks. It is not introvert friendly. It is not visitor friendly.
- I have been to church twice maybe in the past six months. The minister called, we set up a time to talk. The minister cancelled. We rescheduled. This went on for a few times. I gave up: none of the reasons for cancellation were for pastoral or personal emergency. It might be unfair on my part, but I felt like I was not valued.
I still think you are nice people. I also think you are a clique. It is sad. I had hopes for you. But as an introvert, you’ve left me with a few scars. I use a lot of energy to attend church (probably due to number 6 above) and what I’ve found in this year’s Lenten journey is that my faith was not nurtured by your organization.