My mom adventures in Fort Collins


My new church: I guess that I do this now

I was raised Catholic. Capital “C” no meat on Fridays during lent pray the Rosary wear a St. Christopher medal know what purgatory is fast for Ash Wednesday give up chocolate for lent go to confession and genuflect for exercise Catholic. For a very long time, I went to church. As a young person, it was “required” of me by my beloved mother. I will be truthful: It was almost never fun, and I went because I had to and not because I had some deep spiritual yearning. My mother would sit between my brother and me during mass so that we didn’t bug one another or, alternatively, dissolve into fits of laughter over something like the time one of us (I’ll never tell) farted in church. As a young adult, and furthermore as a genuine-beyond-my-early-twenties adult, I embraced the Catholic faith for its rich history, comforting ritual, its preferential option for the poor and its firm footing in acts (of charity, service, faith, etc.). I even went to grad school to study ministry and theology, but that’s another story.

The two horrible churchgoers (and yes, that is a "Members Only" jacket)

The two horrible churchgoers (and yes, that is a “Members Only” jacket)

Clearly, like nearly everyone I know, I had a storied history with organized religion, but I chose it for my own. Both of my girls are baptized in the Catholic church. I belonged to a very good parish in Denver, and I don’t know that I’d personally call it “great” but it was as close to great as you’re likely to get in the Archdiocese of Denver. You see, in the Catholic Church, so much of your liturgy, your community of faith, and your overall experience can depend on the church leadership. I grew up in a very progressive diocese in a very different era. The church had a momentum in the post-Vatican II era that, in my opinion, was not sustained. Where my home parish had embraced lay leadership and even lay homilists in the 80s, my experience as an adult was quite a bit different: lots of head bowing, poor seating arrangements and on the rare occasion you find a wonderful liturgist and homilist, well, then, the priest acts like he’s a rock star (and wears the Madonna microphone to boot).

Never mind the effect of having two girls and realizing that I’d have to tell them Nope, there are all sorts of things you cannot do or be in the Catholic Church simply because you are a girl.

When I moved to Fort Collins, I went to mass at a church and I went again and I went one more time. There was no avoiding it: this church was unwelcoming, archaic, closed-minded and in complete contradiction with my faith. For me, it closed the door on this chapter. I had to find a new church. Possibly, an entirely different denomination.

And I did. After searching (more soul than physical), I found a church that I enjoy. Furthermore, I have been–gasp–participating in the church. I went to a book club at the church the other day.

We read Faith by Jennifer Haigh. This novel, this book club, and this whole experience could not have been a more ironic introduction to my new church. The book is about a family in Boston during the height of the sex abuse scandal in 2002.

Photo from amazon.com

Photo from amazon.com

The Lord works in mysterious ways, right? Well, the Lord couldn’t have been less mysterious at that book club. It was fairly obvious to me how the non-Catholic world sees the Catholic church. Through the eyes of nearly a dozen (mostly) middle-aged (mostly) white Methodist women, I felt a definite distrust for any religion that would let a bunch of celibate dudes run their church-life.

And I had to agree.

My time in the Catholic church was, for the most part, good. Unlike several characters in this book, I do not have to reconcile any major abuses at the hands of the church. Fortunately, I can walk away with a hug and say, “Let’s just agree to see other people.” I wish the church of my birth and my mother’s (and grandparents and great-grandparents, etc.) before me no ill-will. But it just wasn’t working out.

I’m sure that  my relationship with the United Methodist Church will have its own issues. Every honest relationship is challenging in its own way. However, I am excited to see what this new relationship has in store for me. And my girls.

What about you? Do you have a faith community that you love?  If you have kids, is it important to you to raise your kids in a particular faith-tradition?

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11 Comments so far
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Hey Jayme!!

Mike and I both come from very strict Catholic backgrounds. He even did the whole Catholic school route. The priest was at the dinner table of my grandparent’s during many holidays. Mike and I decided to exit the Catholic arena and find something we could relate to about 7 years ago. I couldn’t agree with your blog more…a great way for us to be raised, but we just couldn’t connect as adults, as hard as we tried. We tried numerous denominations before we finally found St. Andrew UMC in Highlands Ranch and we knew instantly we had found our new home. We are able to think for ourselves and form our own opinions and for that we are grateful! 🙂 We LOVE the numerous outreach opportunities and the Children’s activities. Hope it works out well for all of you! Not all organized religion is the same…we have discovered.

Juli

Comment by Juli

Oh Juli, so glad that you read and commented on this! How funny that you and your family wound up at a UMC church as well! I’m glad that this story resonated with you, and I can’t wait to see what our new church has in store for us!

Comment by jaymers

Oh my goodness, Jaymers. You look exactly the same since that photo was taken!

I hear you on this. I find myself torn between the appreciation I feel for my Catholic upbringing (I was lucky to go to really good Catholic schools–run by Sisters of Providence, Marianists, and Jesuits). I had a lot of very caring teachers there, and I credit a lot of who I am today to those environments.

However, there are so (SO) many things that are just hard to turn a blind eye to. And since it is not a democracy, doesn’t seem there is much hope in changing it any time soon. Plus, it is a worldwide church, so what people think in the US is good for the church is not necessarily shared around the world.

Bobby and I both read the book “Losing My Religion”. It takes a very hard look at the abuse scandals. Also interesting to note is that some Protestant pastors from various denominations (despite many being married) also commit sexual abuses. Very sad. Makes me want to become a Quaker, where there is no real established hierarchy, just a lot of common sense. Unfortunately, there appear to be no Quakers in India.

Comment by indiaindiana

Jo–I hear ya. I do. I know so many priests, sisters, lay individuals, etc. that are the precise example of love and faith that I have been lucky to learn from. I actually do not, on principal, have an issue with hierarchy (or monarchy, or other established systems that leave me out of the running to ever be in a position of power). What I have an issue with is how to explain the reasoning behind this to my daughters. So, where do I go? Any organized anything will have issues, sex abuse among the many sorrowful issues. Is the priesthood and church hierarchy set up in a way that allows for transparency, integrity and honesty? I don’t know. I don’t plan to spend much time contemplating it. All I know is that I want my kids to have some sort of formational experience while they are young. So, the time is now, you know? Maybe the Catholic church will change, maybe the UMC will transform and I’ll be left wandering again, but you do the best you can with the information given to you. I’ll have to look at that book. Good luck with bringing the Friends to India. You can do it!

Comment by jaymers

Hi Jayme, just read your post, proud of you! I am praying for you and your new church family. Keeping your faith in our Lord with different people who are searching for truth. Tom and I were searching for a new church and felt led by the Holy spirit to our New church which is Seventh Day Adventist. We attended a Prophecy seminar that helped us with answers to all of our questions about the bible. We were married at this church on a Friday night and baptized together on the Next Sabbath day. We have made many friends, attend weekly services, volunteer together, joined a bible study group and feel very connected to the church and to our faith in God. Tom was raised Catholic so he can relate to your words. Blessings to you in your role as Mother for your beautiful girls who need parents that follow the word of God. Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord, whatever he does shall prosper. God is good all the time!

Comment by Jolene Marx

Thanks, Auntie Jo. I definitely feel at home at this new faith community. They are very active in the overall Fort Collins community, and they do a lot of outreach to the larger world. I’m glad that you and Tom found a church that suits you, as well. It definitely makes a person feel nourished!

Comment by jaymers

I hope you can find a church or some other path to spirituality that brings you what you seek.I agree that it is complicated and important enough to seek a place that appeals to you.
Btw, my site moved. Here is my new address:memyselfandkids.com

Comment by memyselfandkids

Thanks so much for your thoughts. And I will make note of the change.

Comment by jaymers

Cool. I look forward to seeing your comments again.

Comment by memyselfandkids

Jayme – so glad you’ve found good faith ‘community’ in Ft. Collins. Methodists are a great bunch with a long history of social justice activism (William Wilberforce?) i worked with some very devout (& Very Vocal) Methodists in the West Bank & Gaza Strip : ) The thing about faith is you can’t put God in a box (but we do it anyway!) …we have to go where the Holy Spirit leads us & the Light of Jesus Christ guides us – & at the end of the day, we can let the love of God unite us.

Blessings to you in your new church!
grace, peace & faith – Virginia : )

Comment by Virginia

Thanks so much, Virginia! You are always so kind to me, especially supportive in matters of spirituality! Yay for bloggie spiritual supporters! I don’t really “feel” Methodist, but maybe this will come with time? I do feel blessed to have found a community that seems to genuinely embody faith and love in action. All in all, I’m excited to see where this adventure leads me. And my fam. Best to you and your creative ampersand signatures!

Comment by jaymers




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