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Are you no longer drawn to the faith of your community?


Question & Answer

Q: By Evelyn
I am an Anglican, but having accepted the concept of a non-theistic God, I feel uncomfortable attending church with all its outdated forms of worship. To leave the church, however, is to lose my “church family” and the human contact, as well as my part in the church’s ministries, all essential to the expression of God’s love. What shall I do?
A: By Rev. Gretta Vosper
Dear Evelyn,

It is so hard to realize that you are no longer drawn to a community of faith by the faith of the community. When your discomfort makes it hard to attend, it can create loss that goes far beyond the time you would have spent in the pews.

My guess is that your question preceded COVID and its restrictions on human contact which, themselves, will have disrupted your relationship with your “church family”. There are many ways to connect online with communities from around the world. I’d invite you to take this opportunity to reach out and see if there is one out there that matches your beliefs and introduces you to people who may not live close to your home but feel much more closely aligned to your perspective. West Hill gathers people from across North America, the UK, and Africa. The world, as they say, is your oyster right now. Many congregations that are meeting virtually, because of their newfound reach, will be remaining online when gathering restrictions are reduced or ended.

My next guess is that you have a deep desire to be involved in life-giving ministry. Up until now, that has happened through your church. Many church ministries, outside of worship and Christian education, don’t deal with the language or doctrinal beliefs of the congregation and are undertaken in a more fellowship-oriented manner. If those kinds of ministries remain available to you, stick with them. You don’t need to give up what it is that provides you the opportunity to spread joy and find meaning in the process of doing so. Your friends, with whom you have been doing these things for many years, will welcome the opportunity to be with you.

If being with those friends or participating in your ministries is problematic to them, you, or the church, simply turn around and look at the community outside the church doors. There are so many places that need a helping hand from food banks to women’s shelters to garden centres and reading programs. Any one of them would lift your heart and connect you to that great power of love by which so many needs in the world are filled. In the process of finding that new ministry, be open to the new friends to whom it will introduce you. They may not look like what you’re used to, but your heart, next to theirs, will soon beat with a common rhythm.

All my best and do keep us up to date on your journey of discovery.

~ Rev. Gretta Vosper

This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.

About the Author
The Rev. Gretta Vosper is a United Church of Canada minister who is an atheist. Her best-selling books include With or Without God: Why The Way We Live is More Important Than What We Believe, and Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief. She has also published three books of poetry and prayers. Visit her website here

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