So…..What Kind of Church Do I Want?


Just before Thanksgiving, I had an email exchange with an old friend, who is now a member of the episcopal hierarchy… He asked me, with a small dose of annoyance, just what I wanted from the church.

I told him I could think of ten points……..

(1) I want a church that affirms the worth, the dignity, and the autonomy of every woman and man, compatible with the rights of others: a church that supports democracy and human rights and aims at the fullest possible development of every human being.

(2) I want a church that affirms the equality of men and women: that all persons regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation deserve respect and the freedom to live and love in peace.

(3) I want a church that stresses that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility: that a fair society is based on reason and compassion, in which every person plays his or her part.

(4) I want a church that stresses and practices tolerance and freedom of expression: a church that realizes that all doctrines evolve and that all official teachers (Magisterium) must also be humble learners. We don’t have all the truth. We pursue the truth….

(5) I want a church that rejects intimidation and holds that conflicts must be resolved through patient and humble dialogue.

(6) I want a church that upholds freedom of inquiry in every sphere of human life: the unexamined faith is a childish faith. Adult believers question and probe as they believe.

(7) I want a church that upholds artistic freedom, the value of human creativity, and recognizes the transforming power of art: a church that is not afraid of contemporary art.

(8) I want a church in which the ordained leaders dress and act like healthy contemporary leadership people not museum-piece Renaissance princes.

(9) I want a church in which humility and openness to the signs of the times are the key virtues rather than an arrogant condemnation of all that is contemporary.

(10) I want a church that realizes that the face of Christ is best seen and honored in the face of the woman or man sitting next to me on the bus as I go to work each day.

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11 thoughts on “So…..What Kind of Church Do I Want?

  1. Oh, how I used to long to wear the cappa!   HA

    >________________________________ > From: Another Voice >To: collinspw@yahoo.com >Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:14 PM >Subject: [New post] So…..What Kind of Church Do I Want? > > > WordPress.com >John W. Greenleaf posted: “Just before Thanksgiving, I had an email exchange with an old friend, who is now a member of the episcopal hierarchy… He asked me, with a small dose of annoyance, just what I wanted from the church. I told him I could think of ten points…….. (1)” >

    • Maybe in heaven? Perhaps that is the great heavenly surprise: the men who pranced around on earth in these long medieval gowns may end up in heaven wearing discarded secondhand gym shorts. Others who lived more humbly on earth may be clothed in long flowing robes……. Jack

      • Or, maybe; in Heaven we will be mature enough to not need to wear anything; God having made us perfect, in His image. If we were meant to wear clothes, we might well have been born with them.
        There is nothing in the world that is Evil; but, that by your thoughts you have made it so.

  2. If your friend used to be a catholic priest it is sad he is still choosing higher-archy (arching over) over hier-arche (holy-beginning). Ok, not great Greek but you get my point … I hope.

    I want a community of faith just like your church, but without “church.” Somehow I can’t make that word work for me any more. For the lazy and shallow and pious it is a magical belief system and emotional crutch that doesnt require any commitment other than a bit of time once a week and a bit of money. For the clergy it is a medieval system of kings and kingdoms and an emperor. For those who try to live it and make it real it is a constant battle with reason and authority and justice and integrity, the values that attracted them to Jesus of Nazareth in the first place. But then this isn’t his church, is it.

    Sorry…having a bitter day.

  3. Bravo for this! Well said.

    I am a minister in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), currently serving in a congregation of the Church of the Brethren. My co pastor and I are both parents, we both have day jobs (he is a small business owner, I am VP in a large social service agency), we are not paid for our work, and we serve at the calling of the congregation and are accountable to a committee of elders.

    I think you might find something of what you are looking for in the Brethren or the Quakers, or any number of smaller Radical Reformation communions.

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