We go to a United Methodist Church. It is predominately white. As, many of you know, we're not white. (Cue dramatic music. Wait, let me find a clip. Here we go: )
I'm sorry. I had to take a moment to stop laughing at that hamster. The interweb can be hilarious and scary at the same time for someone like me.
Back to my story, a few years ago, a church sponsored an amazing camp that encouraged girls to explore engineering fields. I happened upon one of the church's leaders and we started chatting. I mentioned that I went to blah blah blah church and his face went limp. This is a TRUE story. So, when I say these words, know that I was just as shocked as you are that he said them. He said, "I don't think different races should go to church together." I stared across the table. He hands me brochure to the school that the church owns and continues talking. They'd love to have an amazing child like the medium, person, and blah blah blah. (I know I've given to much away about the place. But oh, well. People need to know what they're endorsing.) Needless to say, a certain family member of mine, (My bossy preacher brother, hahahahaha) just LOVES this church and encouraged my family to go there for a visit. I simply stated, "I'm good." We tease each other often about me being a Methodist because I grew up very, very Baptist. Hahahahahaha.
So, that brings me to the silly goose question I get about my church. I often post photos of my daughter and her confirmation group. They happen to all look nothing alike. (I'm just being silly.) The medium person is the only brown person. We're one of a few, brown families, at a large church.
I've had at least 9 people ask the same questions. "What brought you to a white church? There are so many black churches and there's two black United Methodist churches in Jackson. Why didn't you go there?" The short answer, "Because I do what I want to." The nicer answer, "We walked into the doors and felt a reverence for God that we've felt no where else. Our church isn't judgy. They're not making a list of all the times we miss. (Which is more often, these days, because Sundays are sometimes, the only days, we just get to look at each other, with no interruptions.) We can wear what we want. I felt like I was among friends. It sounds morbid but I knew that I wanted to grow old with the people in my Sunday school class. I want to tell them about my arthritis.
Now, I'm sure we can get those same things at a black church. But, my church happened to be on tv. I thought one of the pastors was beautiful (that sounds horrible once I type it) and the content was always amazing and spoke to me.
One day, we went to vote for governor, in a church near my home, and my daughter wanted to know why we couldn't visit churches closer to home, instead of driving 20 minutes to get to the other United Methodist Church (the black one) that I mentioned earlier. My mom, who happens to love when my daughter asks uncomfortable questions, chuckled. "Well, aren't you going to answer her," my mother asked, barely able to contain her laughter.
I didn't answer. I didn't want to tell her that I'd never set foot in a white church. That churches were still very segregated places. Defacto, unfortunately. So, that Sunday, we loaded into the car, put on our Sunday best, and went to our church. I found the perfect pew in the middle. I've been sitting there since. (I mean, I get up to go home. But, you know what I mean.)
We haven't looked back. Our church is far from perfect. Neither are we. Sometimes, they make me mad, when they don't do things my way. They plan things to make stuff convenient for everyone, and usually, that isn't convenient for me. Sometimes, I make them mad when I don't read the emails and call and ask questions that were clearly in the email. I also, forget the dates that they take hours typing in different calendars and mail to me. (Actual, paper mail!) I still forget. That, sounds like a perfect match, right? It is. Perfect for us.
The level of pastoral care we've received throughout my Dad's illness has been amazing. They've done an amazing job of showing God's love for us. I rarely cry. It's not my thing. Can't explain it. It's kind of weird but the first true tears I shed about my father's illness were with my Sunday school class. They're my family, as much as anyone else is.
So, I guess that's the answer. Maybe, I'll start handing out business cards with a link to this blog when I'm asked again. Haha.
I'm still a runner, ya'll. And a biker, now! Whoohoo!
I just have to play that hamster, one more time.