Departures: Leaving Church

The Methodist Church I grew up in was patent leather Mary Janes, a touring youth choir, and making sandwiches for homeless men at Orlando’s first shelter, our fellowship hall.  I was baptized there, confirmed there, married there.  I grew up in the 60s and 70s.  It was a different time.  Transcendental Meditation was a Sunday School option.

After college, I found myself married and living in Georgia, mom to an infant.  New city, still First Methodist.  But things had changed.  Was it me?  Was it the church?  Was it everything?  These were the Reagan years.  Halloween wasn’t fun anymore, and God was a straight male, dammit!

I grabbed my baby and ran, which is when I discovered Unitarian Universalism.  But then my baby became an inquisitive child, and I didn’t always like the answers she received.  My second baby exhibited signs of developmental delay.  It was hard to find a place for him in a congregation that valued intellect so highly, especially when blinded by my own defensiveness.  What was this weird religion and should I really be dragging my kids through my confusion?  I was haunted by fear and superstition, guilt and obligation.  Back to the Methodist Church (a different one, this time).

Ten years passed there, fairly good ones, but slowly it morphed from a small group of people, focused on the poor, to a “thriving” congregation of 1500, wanting a private school.  I morphed too, became stronger and more broad-minded, learned to speak out against the status quo when warranted, grew into myself.

Departures can be difficult.  Two steps forward; one step back.  I’d like to think I’m not finished growing, but the changes I go through now feel more like refining than defining.  One recent day I drove into the UUCG parking lot and it hit me like a wave.  It simply felt good to be there.  I knew I was in the right place.  Not a big deal, really, except that it was.

Lorena Gay-Griffin

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