My parents and I joined a church today. We've been attending for a few months now, and this is deffinitely the church for us. It encourages intelligent critique of the Bible, has a great music program (the choir of 100+ sang at the Salzburg Festival a year or so ago), is multi-cultural, and is run by women. All five of the positions of power are held by women: three ministers, the bishop and the district superintendent. And in our new member class of 20-some, half of the people joining were following the woman who has taken the position of head pastor this past year. It says something about this woman (who is also a lawyer, by the way) when the male reverand she first served under has changed churches after retiring so he could be taught by her. Here's just a sample of the lessons she's given in the past few weeks:
+ We hear so often of people who claim that you cannot be successful without believing in God/Jesus. This thought is twisted in a way that makes Christianity out to be a means to success, not relationship that is an end in itself.
+ Dr. Tews (the minister) reminded us about our culture's propensity to wanting more!more!more! and the need to hold power over other people. She echoed Jesus' teaching on the church as a body and asked us to consider humanity as a body as well, each of us as a cell in that body. "And what do we call a cell that is greedy?" she asked. "Cancer."
Additionally, we've been attending a Sunday School series on the very controversial Gnostic Gospels, a series that would be considered heretical by many standards. For the next two weeks, the class will be visited by members of the Phoenix Interfaith Movement, specifically the Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Muslim and Hindu faiths. These religious leaders are not being invited so church members can gawk at their strange beliefs, but rather to better understand the power and mystery of faith. In two weeks, we start a series on homosexuality.
This is not a church to shy away from controversy and intellect. I love it.