Churches … My Churches

As I was reading a book today and thinking about my evening with Calvary’s staff I began to think of my journey with churches in my life. I wondered how I ended up interning at a Baptist church in Washington, D.C. that is unlike any church I have ever attended or been a member of. While these thoughts filled my mind and realized that this might be an interesting thing to write on. I also figured it would give me a chance to look back while I understand where I’m at. Thus, I am writing this post.

Growing up in Arvada, CO my family went to Riverside … I remember very little of this church but I remember my snacks in Sunday School (bread, butter, and jelly. Why I loved it I do not know but I did, still do), the big curtains for the stage, and the choir robs. I cannot tell you why I remember these things or how old I was when we attended Riverside.

There was another church of smaller scale to Riverside but the only thing I recall about this church is how I was able to bring my Cabbage Patch baby to service with me. Oh, and the carpet was green.

Then there was the church where I spent the majority of my childhood, Applewood Baptist Church (ABC). I believe we started going here was I was in first grade, not certain though. ABC was the place where I had my first “real” boyfriend and longest “relationship” to date (no judgments please). I was baptized in that church, remember my first encounter with female leadership, first annoyance with a pastor, and my first transition from a church. Applewood will forever by the place that reminds me of the Schmitz family. Rick Schmitz was the cool youth pastor, Shanna Schmitz was the coolest mom, Josh Schmitz was the cutest and coolest guy in the first grade, and his three siblings were the coolest in their grades. I remember the Schmitz mainly because of Josh. He was my first “real” boyfriend … as I type this I laugh because I was in first grade when we started “going out”, first grade, too funny. I spent most of my time with Josh and his best friend Aaron. These two guys were great friends and I’ll never forget sitting next to them after I got baptized and Josh leaning over and asking me why I had. My response was something to the effect that it was what made sense to me and it’s what you did. Alas, the Schmitz family has continued to be loosely connected to my life as my cousin goes to Rick’s church and Rick officiated my sister’s wedding. From afar they still appear to be the cool family who is authentic and real in their faith.                As I mentioned earlier I was baptized at ABC. I recall sitting in Pastor Phil’s office with my mom (I’m sure my dad was there but I can’t remember) and Pastor Phil was asking me how I came to the decision to get baptized. I do not remember what I said but it must have been the right answers for an eight year old to respond with because I was baptized later that month. I thought it would be this magical moment but it was more odd than magical. I remember walking out of the baptismal thinking did anything change? did I do it wrong? Was I supposed to feel different? I don’t believe I asked anyone these questions but remember thinking in the end that it was the right decision.              At kids camp there was a female who helped out and I remember her staying seated when the speaker at camp called all the ministers and pastors forward to be prayed for. I then remember our minister at the time turning to her and telling her to join them. I don’t recall anything but my thought of how interesting it was to see a female up there with all the guys.        I mentioned at the beginning of my tangent about Applewood that this church was also the first place I became annoyed with a pastor. I was so annoyed that EVERY Sunday Pastor Phil told the congregation that we needed to give more in tithes and how is youngest daughter, who was younger than me, gave more than most of us did. Granted I do not know if he said this EVERY Sunday but it felt like he did. In my little person’s brain I remember thinking that he wasn’t very encouraging to get us to tithe but I also remember thinking that he was missing the point of tithing … who knows what I thought tithing was meant to be but that’s my memory of him.           I left Applewood Baptist Church when I was thirteen because my family moved to Texas.

In Magnolia, TX my parents and I attended First Baptist Church Magnolia. I remember the services in the chapel, the Sunday we became members, the lack of welcoming I felt when I first started the youth group, and my justification for not getting involved in Sunday School class. Little did I know when I first started that FBC would be a huge part in my journey in becoming a disciple. I would say my relationship with FBC truly began when I was a junior in high school. The youth group quickly became my closest of friends and rekindled a friendship that has lasted longer than all the others. It was where I began to see my skills and gifts as a daughter of God.                 I left FBC when I graduated high school but had continued to remain close to the youth group the last years of college and first two years of seminary. First Baptist transformed me, grew me, and prepared me for the journey that laid ahead of me after high school.

My first year of college I was Covenant Bible College in Canada and I realized today that that place was my church. It was where my faith grew, I learned what community was about, and was freaked out by words of my teachers. The people from CBC are my family in the most genuine ways. One teacher in particular freaked me out with her words when I hugged her bye. Little did I realize her words would slowly become true in some ways. I am reminded of our Old Testament prof who sparked my passion for the Hebrew tradition. My relationship with all my classmates will forever be apart of shaping me for the rest of my life. This was probably the most amazing experience of church that I have experienced and didn’t even really think about it being church until today … 5 1/2 years later.          I left CBC after graduation.

When I reached Waco, TX for my years at Baylor I knew I was going to attend Church Under the Bridge. I can’t explain it but I knew this was the church I’d be at before I even got to Waco. I spent five years there. I learned about being called to figure out how to live simply, how to love, and what it meant to be church. I didn’t do any of these things well but each of these areas of my life shaped me in countless ways. I remember my first Sunday and my last Sunday. The first is more clear than the last and I will treasure my first for a very long time. My college ministers my first year of college have become my mentors and people that I admire a great deal. I first loved the church for what it was to me in the college ministry then after some large growth pains it became a place where I learned how to be loved by people who didn’t need to know who I was but simple loved as the presence of Jesus. As I reflect on my years there I don’t know if I was church with those who called themselves members but I did count myself a member (I was in our directory and all). It was the church that taught me a great deal of joy and pain, for both I am a better person today. Leaving CUB was one of the hardest things I have ever done but one of the healthiest as well. I doubt I will be remembered by CUB in the years to come and that is a good thing but I promise  you that I will forever remember CUB and the beauty it is.           I left CUB in August of 2010 to grow, heal and prepare for my next portion of the journey.

I attended CrossTies Ecumenical Church in Waco, TX for four months and was loved more than I knew a church could love someone they just met. CrossTies was the first place where I had a female pastor, had contemplative worship, and learned my draw to communion. CrossTies allowed me to heal from my past year and prepare for my journey with Calvary in D.C. Leaving CrossTies to move to D.C. for my internship was harder than I thought it would be. CrossTies is beautiful and sacred in ways that I cannot describe in words, yet. I pray my journey back in Waco next year will allow me to be at CrossTies again.             I left CrossTies to begin my internship with Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

I begin my attendance at Calvary Baptist Church, D.C. tomorrow and my internship with them Monday. I look forward to all this church will teach me. Lord knows that every church I have been to has aided in my journey to becoming a disciple. May God bless this new part of my journey with churches … with Calvary.

Here is to the churches that have shaped me, strengthened me, taught me, hurt me, were hurt by me, loved me, were loved by me, showed me Christ incarnate, made me who I am today as a woman in love with a God who has had the greatest love affair with Its created!

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