Church In The Margins

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About ten years ago, I walked away from church.

I didn’t lose my faith in Jesus, but I did say goodbye to worshipping in the same way with the same words and the same songs and in the same routine. Instead, I found a new way to do church. Because at the end of the day, church for me is finding the holy in unexpected spaces — spaces where I encounter Emmanuel, God with us — and responding to it.

If God is truly in all things, then why did I have to be IN a church to HAVE church?

So, I had church in living rooms and at kitchen tables, on porches and hiking trails, in orange armchairs and bookstores and breweries. I had church with grandmothers and brothers and seekers and musicians, with people of different races and different denominations and different genders and different sexual orientations, and God showed up, and it was exceedingly, abundantly good.

I’m back in church now, and truly, I love the liturgy and prayers that my pastor-husband leads us in there. But as I reach the approximate halfway point in my seminary journey and discern my call for ordination and soon, prayerfully, place myself under the care of my Presbytery as an inquirer in the ordination process, the one thing that I’ve been wrestling with is whether I really want to do pastoral ministry “in a church.” Yes, those have been my words. Because I think, when I get right down to it, I want to pastor, and I want to minister, but I want to do it in a place where we can re-imagine church together, not as a building in and of itself, but in unexpected places that bleed into the margins, for that’s where I find Jesus showing up the most.

So. I’m still gonna get that M.Div. I’m still, Lord willing, going to be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the PC(USA). I’m still gonna be a Rev. But as far as how I lead a community, a church, once that’s all said and done? That’s still a big unknown.

And truthfully, I’m ok with that right now. Because the Holy Spirit loves to surprise us, and for now, all I need to do is trust that goodness and mercy, wherever I may go, will follow.

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