Monday, April 06, 2009

Making A Change

It took just a few minutes, but it was a lovely ceremony and quite well done. A gold embossed card made it official:

This is to certify that Donald E. Clark has been received into full membership of Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ at Kansas City, Missouri on the 5th day of April in the year 2009. D. Scott Howell (Pastor)

You see, this is a monumental change for me, and I am not sure if I have really absorbed the whole idea yet. I have been involved in a church for most of my adult life. Those churches have always been of the United Methodist denomination (UMC). I was born into the UMC, married in it, reared my kids in it, have a daughter going to a Methodist university. Since my arrival in Kansas City in 1996, I have been a loyal and loving member of Trinity UMC (TUMC), a place where I have laughed until I cried, cried until I could shed no more tears and met some of the most incredible people on earth. Until yesterday.

Things change. As Reagan said about the Democrats, "I did not leave them, they left me.", thus I feel the same about TUMC. It left me. The members, for various reasons, began to drift away. Old traditions got swept away as "new management" tried to take the church in a different direction. Once upon a time, the pastor announced that a few people were needed to help move some furniture for a homebound member. 30 people showed up. Today, that many may be the whole attendance at a service. There is a forced atmosphere of "are we having fun???? ...yet" during worship or church functions. The main topic.... "where has so and so gone?" as another member drifts away.

TUMC used to be a daring church. We thumbed our nose at the UMC, constantly urging us to conform to their mainstream, right leaning ways. We welcomed gays and lesbians; one pastor dared to do a commitment ceremony for two men, but soon after another did not and thus the collapse of TUMC began. A bunch of us went to the UMC General Conference in 2000 to protest against the exclusion of gays and lesbians. Those that went with me....they are all gone now. I could go on.

As I began to explore, I remembered some friends who had been hurt and humiliated by the UMC and TUMC leadership so I visited them at their church, Country Club Congregational UCC (CCCUCC). Here is a church that is proudly progressive, focused on justice, open to ALL, not governed by a big mother church that wants all its outlets to rubber stamp their vision and not subject to trials and sanctions from a bishop or other inflated church "leaders". A church that dares, out in the community, great music, good location... I kind of like it.

So I took the step. This, my first full day of not being a United Methodist, may be much like any other frankly. I have to work, take the dog out, probably go to 303 for Monday hamburgers, annoy Will... but inside, I feel a shift. A good one.

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