...continued from Have Faith, part I
Attending Community Church became something I did every week, twice on Sundays and again on Wednesday night. It went quickly from being Melanie’s church to being My church. I felt, instinctively then and definitively later, that this was the perfect place for someone like me. There was no pity that I was attending alone. Any family there schooched down the aisle to make room for one more, passing me a piece of gum or patting my shoulder in welcome.
There were differences in my Community Church from what I knew through limited visitations elsewhere, or from what I gathered about church from watching television or reading books. It was small, both physically and in the size of the congregation. It was non-denominational, the hierarchy only the Bible and the elders. It was charismatic. Community Church had an open style of worship that was disconcerting at first, but soon very comfortable for me. We sang songs with the lyrics projected up onto the wall, hands raised as the Spirit led. To me, it was a deeper and more intellectual church experience than I had known before.
I was in the eighth grade when I started going to Community Church. I met my first real boyfriend there. I had my first true religious experiences there, outside of my initial salvation. Barely a teenager, I was treated as a valuable member of the church. The pastors, first Melanie’s dad then soon someone new, gently recommended reading material from the small library.
For years my parents would drop me off and later pick me back up from various church-related activities, and they always provided money for youth group trips or books on faith. Our family was going through a series of house moves at the time, and for awhile we were living back in my childhood home nearly thirty miles away. It took a considerable amount of patience and gas to take me to church multiple times a week, but they always did it without complaint.
I wasn’t their only child seeking a spiritual life. My sister sang in the choir at her chosen church for years, but she was nine years older than me and by the time I found Community she was married and going to law school. Our lives seemed light years apart.
continue to Have Faith, Part III...