Christ Anglican Church

I did it! One church experience down, 51 to go. My first church for 2018 was the Christ Anglican Church in Columbus. I chose this church because my friend Lorenzo sings there, and my friend Ami agreed to go to with me (bless her). I figured hearing Lorenzo sing would be a nice addition to my morning and having friends there would help me feel comfortable for my first church experience in years.

I still felt incredibly awkward, and like I didn't belong there.  We stood outside of the church for a solid two minutes (which felt like an hour in the zero-degree weather) before we found the nerve to enter.

I didn’t know what to expect from this church, but I definitely didn’t expect it to be as traditional as it was. In their own words from their bulletin, “The continuing Anglican bodies in the United States… remain entirely Catholic in faith and order, while being also non-Roman Catholic in faith and order, while being also non-Roman Catholic and non-Papal (and therefore Protestant in this sense only). Thus, Anglicans stand secure in the knowledge that they are in complete and unbroken continuity with the early, undivided Church of Jesus Christ.”

Phew, that was a lot. I still did a Wikipedia search on the Anglican faith, and, according to Wikipedia, “the majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional ecclesiastical provinces of the international Anglican Communion, which forms the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.”

So, they are Catholic, they take communion (don’t worry, I didn’t because no baptism here), but they don’t have any leadership figure like the pope. The sermon I witnessed today seemed to emphasize this as well. At one point, the reverend said “we believe only the things God has revealed to us, we don’t make things up, we don’t have to guess, God has revealed himself through Christ.” He also threw a tiny bit of shade at other churches when he professed that he believes other churches do make things up.

My interpretation of the sermon is that the church believes only in what is in the Bible, and that because they don’t have a figure like the pope to give any clarification on faith. Their service was felt very antiquated, and afterward one member of the church told me “this service is ancient, goes back 500 years.” You could say they are set in their ways.

The overall vibe wasn’t a good fit for me. Not only did I have a rough time figuring out what I was supposed to be doing, what I was supposed to say, and when to stand or kneel, but it also all felt very rigid and conservative. I think rigidity has some really beautiful advantages, it must be comforting to experience something that is unwavering and ancient. This is something the congregation feels is as close to what God meant church to be like way back when. But for me, I can’t imagine adopting a faith that doesn’t have any flexibility. It needs to be able to adapt as times change. Being accepting about things like LGBTQ+ rights, divorce, contraceptives, and a plethora of other things that the Bible does not condone matter to me. And although the Roman Catholic church isn’t a shining beacon of liberalism, they at least have the pope to address modern issues.

It was interesting that this was the first service I went to. Although I didn’t vibe with the church itself, the sermon had a part about seeking God. The reverend said “we must nurture our faith. People don’t like faith because they haven’t looked for Him.” He was trying to emphasize that Christianity is for everyone, but as humans we must seek it. At the bare minimum, our hearts must be open to the idea of accepting God, and at best we should be actively seeking to serve God. It resonated with me since I just started this journey to possibly find some faith. Although for most of the service my thoughts were racing with doubts and cynicism, I did take some comfort in the fact that my heart is open. By being there and starting this blog and I am seeking something, and maybe I won’t find it, but at least I have tried to not shut it out completely.

The reverend ended the sermon with a very dramatic phrase, saying “being lazy in our worship of God is a step toward killing God.” This came after a point he drove home about the abhorrent materialism of Christmas and how during the Christmas season we should be giving to the Church, and not to one another. I could see where he was coming from, keep the Christ in Christmas. But, this was the second instance of the service where the reverend referenced a financial contribution to the church. The bulletin showed how much money had been given during the last service, and how much they needed to keep the church running every week. It’s a nice bit of financial transparency, but also made me feel a twinge of cynicism. Doing the math, with the size of the congregation in the church today (14 people apart from Ami and me), each person would need to give over $100 for the church to meet their weekly goal. Churches, like any other institution, have expenses. They have lights to keep on, people to pay. I respect that, but the entire argument against Christmas felt more like an admonishment than an inspiration to action.

All in all, I am happy my journey has started. I loved spending time with Ami and Lorenzo, and even through a sermon that had pieces I didn’t agree with, I was engaged. I took notes, and thinking about what pieces I identify with, and what pieces I don’t, was a fun exercise in self-exploration.