As some of you may know, I was asked to leave Lakeview Church of Christ in Chicago a few years ago. Though I often say I was kicked out, I guess that's not technically true: I was told that I could not serve in any public capacity and could not consider myself a member of Lakeview. I was still allowed to attend services, but any public contribution to the life of the church would be unwelcome.
This was unacceptable, so I started the process that eventually led me out of Churches of Christ and into The Episcopal Church (long story). Most of the time, I have no regrets: I found that I was unwelcome in the denomination of my birth, so I left and made a home elsewhere.
Lately, though, I've been experiencing doubts about the choices I made a few years ago. Was leaving the right thing to do? Should I have stayed and worked for change from within? Did I actually leave, or did I just step away for a while? Was TEC the right place to land? Have I given up too much of my heritage by stepping into a Catholic tradition? I dunno. Some of this may be navel gazing at its worst, and there is no obvious (or correct) answer to any of my questions.
A few months ago, I started to feel a longing for a more evangelical (for lack of a better word) expression of the faith. It started, I think when I was staring down the barrel of TEC's lengthy ordination process. As I considered whether I had a call to ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, I found myself looking back to my roots. I have preached, I have taught classes, I have presided at the Lord's Table, and I have baptized. Do I really, then, belong in a church which limits my activities because I am not ordained? Do I need a $100,000 education to be able to serve in the way that I feel called?
This fed into broader concerns that I have about TEC. It is a wonderful place, and my current church took me in when I badly needed it. But I am not always sure that it is for me. Yes, I love the history, liturgy, music, deep theology, and welcoming approach to the LGBT community. And I don't know how I prayed before I discovered the Book of Common Prayer. But TEC is, in its way, rigid. Particularly in a church like mine (with a strong Anglo-Catholic bent), liturgy is the sacred cow. It is beautiful every week, but it is the same every week (with modifications for the season of the liturgical year).
So I took a step back, and began to consider where I belong. Again. Sigh. Am I still an evangelical? Am I still Church of Christ?