Saturday, March 7

Who is Lauren Woody? Part Two, The College Years

When I left for college a few months later, church was the last thing on my mind. I was still angry with God for taking away my grandparents. I went to a school with a great Episcopal College Ministry, but I knew nothing about it. I am sure if I had, I wouldn't have gone anyway but it would have been nice to know they were there. I took out my anger with God for taking away my grandparents, with my grandparents for dying, and with my parents for lying about her health by partying and not going to class. I partied so much that I did not make very good grades my freshman year. By my sophmore year, I was ready to leave Auburn and move home. When I got home to my parents house in Mississippi, I stopped my partying and decided to work on being a better human being. This still did not include church, because on some level, I felt like the church had let me down. When I "fell of the face of the earth", no one called to see how I was. No one called to see where that cute, fun girl had gone. It was like all those years of being involved were for nothing. I was a cast away.

It took me a few years before I was ready to step foot in a church on my terms. I had gone on the major holidays to please my mother, but I did not enjoy the service and I did not want to hear anything being preached from the pulpit. When I decided to go back, I started trying to find someone to go with. The thought of venturing alone into that place that had been my greatest source of community was terrifying. I went to other denomintations with a few friends, but it made me realize that I was definitely an Episcopalian. I finally found out that a friend of mine from college was Episcopalian (go forth and tell no one was obviously a motto we both ascribed to) and we decided to go to church together. We decided to go to a church were he knew the priest from his childhood. When we got in the sanctuary, the first thing I noticed was that we were the only people our age in the room. During the announcements, when prompted, we stood up to show that we were visitors. Before I could even turn around to get my purse at the end of the service, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was smiling woman, probably in her fourties, with a husband and two kids. She immediatley introduced herself and said "you are just going to love this parish. We went on the parish retreat last weekend and all they did was get drunk and tell dirty jokes. It isn't even like church at all!" I remember thinking, I am so glad I am an Episcopalian, because if I was a Baptist trying out a new denomination, I would never come back.
Just so you know, I found her statement to be very endearing. I thought "this woman wants to say something to me that will make me feel welcome and want to come back", but I am pretty sure that was not the way to go about it.

This brings me to the real problem I find in churches. If I go into the building and I am the only person my age then why would I feel comfortable? If I go and my only conversation is with a person who thinks my hobbies are drinking and being inappropriate or even worse, no one acknowledges me at all, then why would I want to come back? If I look on the pew card (which is usually a good representation of what is important to a parish) and the only groups are aimed at children, youth, and older adults, then what is my incentive to stay? I know plenty of young adults who have encountered one of these problems and it is leading to a church with no middle generation. It is leading to a generation of Cast Away Christians who want to worship, be in a closer relationship with God, and find community, but have no reason to believe that a pew is where they are going to get it.

No comments:

Post a Comment