So I don’t know why, but I just recently felt the urge to find out more about the “church” I was baptised in and the faith we (my siblings and I) grew up with. In my reading I found some interesting information that seems to hold true to my beliefs as an adult… even though I don’t “practice worship” as most “strong Christians” would consider worship.
I guess it mostly comes from a church-going friend who recently asked me “what are you?” referring to my church… In the past I have always responded “Christian” however, I never really thought about what that meant. Also, I recently saw the movie “life of Pi” (which I totally recommend by the way) and in it the boy Pi, is raised in India as a Hindu but is also exposed to Christianity and Islam. He starts to follow all three religions as he just wants to love God, and tries to understand God through the lens of each. As an adult he comes to recognize benefits in each one and ends up referring to himself as an “Islamic Christian Hindu” :)
Now, from what I have learned I’m still not sure “what I am” and the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t think I ever again will be just of one faith, kind of like Pi… rather, I can say that I grew up reading the bible, but that I am also now educated in Buddhism (which is not actually considered a religion) and that I am open to learning more, and I will. I still don’t know how to “call” myself when I get that question… I guess I will have to pick my own name… as a believer of many faiths (including science and life on other planets)!!
Most of you reading this don’t know me personally, so I grew up going to church with my siblings and my mom (my dad never really joined us). My mom was a sunday school teacher, we went to evening children’s groups, sang in the choir etc. As we got older we stopped going to church, I’m not exactly sure why, but life got busy and I’m sure it just got to the point where we made too much of a fuss for mom’s worth. But then when I was in highschool I had a girlfriend who came from a strong “christian” family and I joined youth group with her for a couple of years… then I started experimenting with alcohol and pot (shhh ;) so she couldn’t be my friend any longer… but aren’t we supposed to love and accept everyone? I was still the same person… Anyways, now in my late twenties it’s been about 15 years since I have been to church.
The United Church is the largest “Protestant” denomination (in Canada) and Protestantism is one of the major divisions within Christianity. It has been defined as “any of several church denominations affirming the primacy of the Bible” and, more broadly, to mean Christianity outside of an Orthodox or Catholic church. Orthodox and Catholic “Christians” also follow the bible but have more structured understandings of the interpretations than Protestants. The Catholic Church believes it is not a denomination of Christianity, but THE first Christianity and all others are denominations – this kind of mind-set is what I believe creates barriers and why I found that being a part of a “united church” has seemed to had a profound effect on my beliefs as an adult, even though I didn’t even realise it until now… hmmmm divine intervention or just random coincidence?
The United Church believes that the Bible is central to the Christian faith and was written by people who were inspired by God, but that the stories told in the Bible should not all be taken literally. Here are some of the core values of the United Church – these are what you could say “set them apart” but I would say “bring them together” as it allows them to be more inclusive as they don’t create barriers to other groups…
Communion is the ritual sharing of the elements of bread and wine (or the grape juice) as a remembrance of the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his followers. There is no restriction regarding age or United Church membership. Communion is open to young children as well as Christians from other denominations (not sure about other faiths)… but in my house, I don’t care who you are, sharing is caring – you are always welcome to eat the bread and drink the wine! Enjoy!
The belief of the United Church is that baptism is not a requirement for Crist’s love, it is not considered a passport to heaven, nor does the church believe that those who die un-baptised are condemned or damned for eternity. Rather, the church believes that baptism is the first step in church membership, where the parents make a profession of faith on behalf of the infant in hopes that their child will later confirm that profession at or around the age of 13. SO basically, a declaration of your commitment to the church, not christ.
Remembering that Jesus was reported to have welcomed prostitutes and other “undesirables” to his table, the united church attempts to welcome everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation etc. In the same manner, there is also no restriction on those interested in entering ministry – bring on a gay minister!
Believing that marriage is a celebration of God’s love, the church recognizes and celebrates all legal marriages, including same-sex couples, previously divorced people, and couples of different religions. It’s a celebration bitches!! Lets party :)
The united church believes that there are many paths to God. The United Church’s path is through Jesus Christ, but the church recognizes that the Holy Spirit of God is also at work through other non-Christian faiths. Seriously people, do you not love someone because of who they are as person as a whole? Who cares what version of the story they believe.
The church supports the right of women to have access to safe abortions, but also supports better access to contraception, sexual education and counselling that eventually might obviate the need for abortion. But sometimes shit happens, doesn’t it! Birth control is not 100% effective 100% of the time, and lets face it, not everyone should or wants to reproduce.
I feel pretty good after reading all that so I thought I would share it with you too, in hopes that it will help bring you and yours together in your interactions with others, encouraging you to open up your ideas and break down some barriers. I’m certainly not advocating for “protestant-united-church-going-ways” but I thought that the information I found was all-in-all “good spirited” (in a totally non-religious way) and simply provides a solid foundation of beliefs for just being a good person – again, with all bible-relations aside.
This is part one of my personal journey, as I continue to delve into the spiritual world I will keep you posted :) Please let me know what you think of all this!