We’ve just published an essay written by the priest at the Anglican church I attend, Holy Trinity Anglican. It’s an Anglican Mission in the Americas church, which is part of the African-American conservative Anglican movement that is splitting from the Episcopal Church with increasing formality.
My wife and I chose this church for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the schism, i.e. the ongoing debate on homosexuality and biblical authority. When we were looking for a liturgical church, Holy Trinity was the option that was closest to our home. The congregation was warm and diverse (relative to northern Colorado Springs). The priest was theologically sophisticated, yet down-to-earth. There were a handful of young families with whom we wanted to be in community. They had, I learned my first week, a Beer and Theology small group–nice bonus (tho I rarely get to attend).
Had we lived downtown, we would have gone to Grace and St. Stephen’s
, an Episcopal church that suffered a liberal-conservative split in 2006. Had we been there during the split, we likely would have “sided” with the liberals, mostly because my dear friend Michael O’Donnell
(himself a sort of complex conservative) was the rector of that parish. We could have found salient points of political agreement with either side–as well as strong disagreements with both sides–and could have found a place at either, as long as both affirmed creedal orthodoxy. (Although, in that case, if the schism became either parish’s reason for being, we wouldn’t have been comfortable for long.)
I point all this out to show that people don’t always (often?) choose churches on the basis of politics. We certainly didn’t, and I’ve been at pains to explain this again and again when I’ve told more liberal friends that I attend an AMiA church. AMiA also does not ordain women, a position with which I disagree strongly. Last summer, a friend berated me for attending a church that won’t ordain women. I share his grief over the matter, but he had absolutely no sympathy with the journey that brought my wife and I to Holy Trinity Anglican. A certain path led us inexorably there, and nowhere else. We took great pains with our decision, and in the end chose liturgy and proximity over other criteria. I’m not sure how long we’ll get to stay, but it has been the right church for us for a season, for reasons that have nothing to do with–and that are in fact in spite of–the fights over ordination.
I don’t know anyone who goes to church anywhere who agrees with everything that goes on–at least, I don’t know any mature, critically engaged believers who feel that way about their church. Church is friggin complicated, messy, frustrating, even as it can be life-giving.
How about you? If you’re a church goer, how did you arrive at the church you attend? What needs does it meet? What keeps you there?