Monday, March 14, 2011

What Am I?

I've just filled out an online survey.  In it I was required to fill out my "Religious Affiliation" there were two options available for me (not being athieist agnostic,of another faith or post modern ~apparently that's someone who hates being labelled), so my two options were "Christian - Anglican" or "Christian -other".
In the end I used "Christian -Other" and filled in the details "Multi denominational Christian"
Currently I worship in an Anglican Ecumenical Partnership with Methodist Church.  When we originally moved to this village (when I was 11) It had three Churches. Methodist, URC, and CofE, and if you go further back in history, there was a Presberteryan church before the URC. Over the years, the congregations have changed, aged and depleated.  In the end, I think the Methodists were down to 9 elderly people (although young at heart!) and their church building was tired and they joined with the Anglican congregation.  It's a partnership that works really well.  The communion service is sometimes the Methodist one, sometimes the anglican one and is sometimes led by a Methodist superintendant and sometimes an anglican vicar.  We use chalis's or small glasses.  No one seems to mind at all.  I for one embrace it.  Our congregation is large.  It's made up of a huge range of ages from 2 weeks to 90+.  We have within it Methodists, anglicans, Baptists, free church, and probably more backgrounds than that.
From being a tiny babe in arms until the age of 15ish, I was brought up in the Baptist faith.  Church for us, usually meant a long journey to a nearby town.  As a small child it was "Just what we did", I never thought about it particularly, but it was annoying to be too far away to be in volved in mid week events like the girls brigade etc. Over the years we moved around and I experienced many differing Baptist Churches, I've been to Fire and brimstone ones with banging on the pulpit and no toys on a Sunday type rules, small mining chapels (with a lovely lady who would make the children gingerbread men with white icing decorations) and more modern ones in run down areas where the services would frequently have youngsters jumping on the roof  during the service (quite a frightening experience).
When I was about 14, a friend of my mum and dad in the village where we lived started a youth group from the local Anglican church.  It took place on a Friday night and we (my brother and myself) were invited along.  We were still attending a Baptist Church 13 miles away, but met with the youth group on the friday.  At that youth group, for every service you attended you received a point to save up for a bible.   I had two or three bibles, but I was really narked that my attending at a Baptist church didn't count for points as I was attending every week and I'd have soon got my new bible!
I've never been quite sure what happened next, but all of a sudden, we started going to the local Cof E.  At first it was really  awkward with the parading out for communion and the liturgy, but eventually we began to feel at home and I began to lead a Sunday school class.  I approached the vicar and asked him if he would perform an adult baptism (aka Baptist style!).  He ummed and ahhed and in the end agreed to on the understanding that I would be confirmed.  I agreed, but I was really cross as I felt that he didn't understand
what the Baptism meant to me.  So there it is, I was baptised in a Baptist style baptism in a friends swimming pool, by an Anglican vicar and then confirmed in the Anglican church. (incidentally, many of our young people choose that form of baptism and it now takes part in a paddling pool in the Church grounds, (it used to be within the church itself until one poor lads feet poked right through the side and caused a huge surge of water to cover the church.
When I left home and moved to the outskirts of London to work as a nanny, I tried out a Baptists church, a free church, but eventually settled in a Cof free style with a fabulous supportive youth group for ages 18-23.  it was just what I wanted and I really enjoyed my time there.  I used to catch a bus, or one of the people would give me a lift there, but again, i was back to travelling to church.  I moved jobs and decided to go to whatever my nearest church was.  It was a CofE, and I spent some happy times there.  I also met my husband there and we were married.
We moved into a village suburb in a wealthy area (we were the poor relations!) We went to our local parish church and it was dire.  The services and the congregation were traditional to say the least. It had a large fully robed choir and a full set of bell ringers. After a few weeks of attending, I noticed one day that we were going to be singing "shine Jesus shine", I actually got quite excited at the prospect, some modern music, but my excitement was short lived as the choir led the song at quarter of the speed it needed to be sung at.  We persisted in going, but it was a chore and very easy to find an excuse to miss it.
I did meet "living" Christians around the village in the playgroup etc, but they weren't in the two local churches.

It was at that point that I vowed that what ever my local church was be it modern, traditional, high, low, Methodist, baptist, sally army etc, then that is right where I would be.  I don't need a badge of affiliation, I just need a "part of the community" one.
11 Years ago I moved back to the village I spent most of my growing up years in.  The church has come a long way from the formalish CofE it was.  We are reaching out into the local schools and recently appointed a youth leader to work with local churches and in the local senior school and feeder primaries.
There are problems for me with all the main denominations and whilst I consider myself a member of them whilst I am worshiping in them, I do have issues with all sort of bits and bobs, For example, I don't agree with a royal family (unelected) and so how can I  accept one of them as "the head of the church" and as for what comes next ~ hey ho anything goes! (perhaps I'll save that for another day!
I think to summarise, I shall pinch our churches statement for myself
My aim is to be a Caring, celebrating, worshipping, proclaiming and growing Christian presence in the village and the world..

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