Sunday, 23 October 2011

I fought the Church - well kinda

Once in a while I embrace being a grown up. Like, lately, when confronted with an infuriating situation, I try to wait a little before reacting. It certainly doesn’t come easy but I always find that I have better perspective later when I do decide to take action. Often the anger is still there but it’s low simmering, not explosive crazy.

Today has not been one of these mature days.

When Deaglan was born, even though I’d been away from formalized religion for over twenty years, I suddenly had a profound need to find a spiritual community, do charity work as part of that community and expose my son to what I’d grown up with – a knowledge of the Bible and Jesus’ work.

The small United congregation around the corner welcomed us with open arms. We immediately began indoctrination classes since Shaune had never been baptized, and met the sweetest pastor-in-training, a gay ex-Jesuit monk, his partner and a group of other newcomers. After the ten week course, Shaune and Deaglan were officially welcomed into the Church through a beautiful baptism ceremony. Sadly this was the same time our beloved ex-Jesuit pastor-in-training was finished his schooling, and moved to his own congregation in another city.

We settled into church life but discovered that it was very different from what we’d imagined. First of all we didn’t like the regular pastor. She was odd, overly flowery and symbolic when delivering her sermons – we couldn’t relate. And there was no charity work, only church fundraisers. All the money went back to the Church. Also, most of the parishioners were a few generations older than us, there were no young families.

We stopped going to church.

But the Church kept sending us pleas for donations. And they called religiously (I meant that) to ask us for our time in the nursery or donations for the charity garage and bake sale. This went on for two years.

When Naveen was born I panicked. I wanted him to be baptized but didn’t want to start going back to Sunday services. We’d decided that we could continue giving to good charities without the backing of a Church; we could be a part of a community that wasn’t affiliated with formalized religion.

But because the Church continued to call us for money and for our time, I chose to make contact. I asked the receptionist to have the pastor call me, told her that I wanted Naveen to get baptized in their upcoming Father’s Day service. She hesitated. I asked her if there was a rule that we had to attend services in order for our baby to be baptized but she dodged my question and promised to pass the message.

It's been six months. The pastor never called.

And yet today in the mail (we retrieve our mail once a week), I received another donation envelope. Immediately I sent the Church an email. I asked them about their double standard – why we have to attend services to reap the benefits of membership when they have no problem treating us like members when they want our money.

I reacted in anger and it kind of felt great. I’ll let you know if I hear back.


  1. Sometimes an angered reaction gets a response and thus makes the anger worthwhile. I also try the waiting a little while but then find myself exploding. So that needs some work. I feel like your email was a legitimate question- it's a total double standard. Also, I'm ramble-y tonight. Those pictures are beautiful!

  2. What a shame!
    I wish you lived here - you would love our church.

  3. A church that does no charity work? Whaaaat?

    I'm glad you gave it to them straight. Hope they have a humble response.

    Either way, I hope you find a good church!

  4. I would've been upset too. Good for you. I have a hard time with organized religion because I feel like it can be so judgmental instead of open arms towards all people. It's so hard to find the right church.

  5. I think in a case like that, anger is more than justified. How sad that this particular church sees people as only dollar signs.

    Amy was baptized in a church we didn't belong too. It was a beautiful service and they never asked for anything from us in return-other than to honor the promised we made on her behalf that day. We still don't attend church either, but I'm proud to see that Amy embodies the Christian spirit of kindness and goodness. And you do too-because like Amy, it comes through loud and clear in your stunning (and I mean stunning!) photographs:)

  6. Good for you! That is a complete double standard! Like Valerie, our son was baptized in a church we are not members of and they have never asked us for anything in return.

  7. Good question! Have you thought about visiting other churches?

  8. It's so hard to find the "right" church to fit into...clearly this isn't the right one. I'd say they are solicitors if nothing else. I hope you find one!
    And your pictures are gorgeous!!

  9. It's too bad the new pastor wasn't a good fit. Maybe they'll rethink how the request donations in the future.

  10. Yea sounds like some of the goodness of the church left with the other pastor. And totally seems like double standards.

  11. Clearly double standards there. Good on you for sending in an e-mail. I hope they clarify things with you.

  12. Eck I totally feel you on this one. I have huge issues with formalized religion of any kind.. religion isn't in a building..otherwise anyone would qualify..religion is much more than the four walls...I'm glad you spoke up.. I wish more people would..

  13. Organized religion is such a mixed bag. I have attended some wonderful churches and some horrible ones. It always comes down to the leadership. I usually stop attending when pastor disappoints me. But he more I mature, the more I realize they are just human like me. In your case, I think your response is totally justified and not at all angry. You tried to have a frank conversation about membership and services but it was ignored. I would ask to be removed from their mailing list.

  14. Beautiful fall shots!!
    Your experience with the church is why people run from faith. It truly bothers me, disgusts me...

  15. Finding the right fit is so hard. I love our church, but we, too, wanted something grounded in reality. We didn't want a social club, we wanted a place that truly went into the community, all while not using the pulpit as a political mouthpiece.

    I am so blessed to have found a place that feels like home.

    And it sounds like you did exactly the right thing.

  16. I would have definitely been upset and kudos to you for having the guts to call them on it! I wish I had the ability to confront people instead of just keeping it inside. I hope you hear back!

  17. I'm proud of you for sending that email. I would've been upset too. I think it's important to stand up for what is right. You go girl!!


Thanks for your comment!