Sabrina Reyes-Peters

No Dice

Or, Should Church Hunting Be This Hard?

As some of you may know, I’ve been struggling on the church front for the past year. Becoming part of the Anglican Communion three years ago ruined me for most non-liturgical type of churches. Problem: there are no Anglican churches nearby (within a 20 minute drive; it is difficult to become involved in a community if you don't live in or near it).

My former seminary roommate and I have been church hopping since around Easter this year. We discussed our criteria for a church, and joked about starting our own, after feeling a bit hopeless. Yesterday, I half-jokingly posed the idea of team-preaching to her while eating brunch (because it terrifies us both), but no dice. At this point, we have visited an Alliance church, an AME church, and an Episcopal church, in addition to one non-denominational church.

Then, after a discussion with Charles this morning, I honestly began to wonder if our criteria are indeed too stringent. After some thought, I narrowed my criteria down to some essentials, in no particular order (I classify myself as an Anglican with Anabaptist sensibilities):

  1. Limited wishy-washiness. What I mean is, if you claim to be about Jesus, don’t sell out for something else.
  2. Female leadership (outside of children’s, women’s and music ministries).
  3. Non-stuffy atmosphere (no legalism or rigid traditionalism).

I moved the following criteria to my “nice to have” list:

  1. Attention to social issues.
  2. Limited air of nationalism.
  3. Liturgy from a prayer book, which includes a celebration of the Eucharistic on a weekly basis.

The church we visited yesterday was lively, and despite the disproportionate amount of hipsters present, I would have considered going back if a female pastor was represented in the leadership. Again, no dice, which is why I revisited the joke about starting another church.

Why am I putting this out there? I guess, for one, I am starting to feel whiny about my 21st century, first-world problem. (This definitely wouldn’t have been a problem in the very early days of Christianity, except for the fact that they actually had female leaders, but I digress.) Two, I am legitimately wondering if my criteria are too stringent.

How you would you approach this problem? Am I being too idealistic? Other thoughts?