Several years ago when visiting my maternal grandparents at the nursing home they lived in I would pass a small stone church along the way. Slowly I began to wonder what it was like on the inside until one day I decided that I just had to visit there for a service. Now it was an Episcopal church; I had never been to a church of that denomination before and didn't know anyone who would be there. But there I sat in last row one Sunday morning as the procession of people came down the aisle following a cross and a bible ( I had never seen that before). Then the priest that began speaking was a woman! I had no idea that women could be preachers; I had never seen one before. This amazed me and I knew I was where I was supposed to be.
Unfortunately for her, she decided to allow a man who had been convicted for molesting a child with mental handicap work with the children of the church and then lied about it. The truth always has a way of coming out and she lost her job. Now she could have been believing in the best of humanity but you don't put a cookie thief in the room with a full cookie jar.
At this point I was teaching second grade Sunday school, part time secretary and was deeply committed to this particular church. And when I was approached to be the co-youth minister along with this guy whose parents and brother attended the church but he'd been away at college and was back. This was the first time I'd met Jay; I'd seen him around but we'd not been introduced. The first few times Jay and I went out we were accompanied by 6-10 teenagers!
Being their youth minister was a volunteer position; we had no budget from the church since it was struggling to make ends meet. So we raised all our own money. It was challenging and rewarding but after two years we were burnt out not only from the youth but the population of the church had dwindled so much and the new priest wasn't what we'd hoped. As he ran more and more people away the vestry was relying on us for many other things. Every time someone new visited on Sunday we were pushed to go speak with them and attempt to make them feel welcome and to come back. I think the eagerness of those who were there made newcomers feel....well weirded them out. I know I would be.
Unfortunately after Jay & I left no one else really became the youth minister and the church eventually closed down. But I hear its back now with a new location and the priest is someone who was in seminary at the time Jay & I were at the church.
Jay and I began attending another Episcopal Church, where we were married. The associate rector was the same age as Jay and his sermons were so relevant. He took things like footballs, Silence of the Lambs and even tossed jolly ranchers at the parishioners one morning & they all tied into his message. To this day I've never heard another priest that interesting. But he left and started his own church because he felt led to; the rector left because of family issues and I think he may have left priesthood all together. We moved away and I just haven't really been to a church regularly in 4 years. On Sunday we told WC we were going to church and he replied: "to buy paint?" And Jay said we need to go more because WC thinks church is a Sherwin Williams (paint store).
I just don't know how we got this way. I used to be so dedicated and really enjoyed it. We've visited several places over the past year and nothing gives me that "this is it, this is home & where I'm supposed to be" feeling. So I'm searching and praying. I want to raise my boys in a church but I just have to find the right one.