|So, for some reason I haven't figured out, God sends me to churches that have or about to get a new pastor. It's a little strange, really. I attended the Catholic Church for thirty years and priests there were assigned their posts. They came and went and it never occurred to me that other churches had to hunt clergy down like cats after a lizard. The idea of a church without permanent clergy was alien. When the city I grew up in didn't have enough priests to staff it's six Catholic Churches, I mourned for those churches that didn't have a full-timer, but had a "loaner" from a better staffed congregation. (My smug certainty that this would never befall my family church is another story.)|
Anyway, the first church I attended after I broke with the Catholic Church had a new pastor. My friend MJ attended there and she invited me several times. It was an evangelical church and any church that called itself that right in the name-the Evangelical Free Church-was one to avoid. I didn't know what an evangelical church was about, but I knew it was wrong for me.
I had joined a bible study open to anyone who was interested. There was no denominational slant to it, so it wasn't the bible according to the Baptists or Methodists or Presbyterians or Catholics. Everyone read the same material and answered the same questions. The rules were that you didn't talk about what church you attended, what your pastor thought about the passage you studied, or what your denomination believed about the subject. You didn't discuss matters that varied, such as baptism. It was fine to discuss that baptism was important, but no mention of methods would arise. If you believed baptism could only matter if you wore a bikini for it, fine. Just don't bring it up.
Since I was unable to drive (epilepsy, what a pain), I got rides from other attendees. Maybe that made me stand out, but it certainly provided more opportunity to talk to the people who drove me. I couldn't understand why it mattered to total strangers that I get there, but I was grateful. At some point, word got out that I didn't actually belong to a church, I began receiving invitations from some of the other women. In a study where we weren't supposed to talk about where we went to church, Sheila, Patricia, and Carolyn all invited me to their churches. The thing is, they all went to that same Evangelical Church MJ invited me to. The one that met so close to my house that I could climb my back wall at home and be in the parking lot. Go figure. I kept being polite while wondering if it was something in the water.
My bible study was broken up into discussion groups. My group leader was very supportive of me, and we were discussing attending churches. She stated that she'd invite me to her church, but because I didn't drive, it would be inconvenient. She'd heard good things about the Evangelical Free church by my house, though. If she weren't going to her church, she'd try it. I could go there.
Okay, this was too much. How many invites had I received by now---six? Was it eight? Maybe God actually wanted me there. Yeah, that was the answer. I was supposed to go. So I went, liked it, and it became my church. Part of what I liked was the new pastor. My first new pastor. But not my last.