In the summer of 1999, Bill and I started our new life together, and when I moved to Memphis, one of the first things I did was to find a church to attend. I considered it as much a way to meet new people as I did a way to continue my faith journey, and in the fall of 1999, I started attending Colonial Park United Methodist Church. Bill attended with me when his schedule permitted, and it brought us closer together to be able to grow together in our faith. I joined the handbell and chancel choirs and immediately found a new family with whom I could share my faith. We only lived together a year in Memphis before a job opportunity presented itself to Bill which brought us to Massachusetts and of course, I did the same thing when we arrived in Sunderland. We first attended Wesley United Methodist in Amherst and it was there that I first truly felt challenged regarding my spiritual beliefs. It was difficult enough to adjust to the New England mindset in general, but when I started doubting the path our minister was laying out for us, I questioned whether or not I wanted to be a part of his faith community. At first, I blamed myself because I was a moderate conservative from the south and I thought maybe I was just resisting change out of my stubborn need to be right. The more I interacted with other parishioners, I realized that the total devotion expected from us required us to turn our brains off and let the pastor think for us. As disturbing as that was, it was even more disturbing how many of the congregants were willing to do so. I was conflicted, because I was raised to believe that the minister always had your best interests at heart and that you should always trust him or her, but soon I realized that wasn’t the case. Once I had that revelation, Bill and I walked away with our heads held high. We were trying to decide where to go next when Bill said “how about we try the church on the corner?” In 2004, we started attending the Sunderland Congregation Church and have been there ever since. We’ve had our fair share of challenges throughout the nearly twenty years we’ve been married, but through it all our faith has sustained us. Whether it was my layoff in 2009 or our struggles with fertility issues, Bill and I have turned to prayer and our relationship with God to help us cope with things that could easily overwhelm us if we were not people of faith. Looking back over my life, I know that God has always been there for me, even if I couldn’t see it at the time. God never promised us that we wouldn’t suffer when he gave us the gift of Christ; instead, He promised us that when times are difficult, He will listen and help us. We might not get the exact answer we want, but we will always get the answers we need. With the attacks toward Christianity that are in full force around the world and here at home, I have been giving much thought to my relationship with Christ lately. I’m not an evangelist, nor am I someone who others would consider a “holy roller.” I don’t proselytize or speak to strangers about my faith. Instead, I try to live my faith so that my life is an example of Christ’s light in the world. No matter how many people tell me to shut up or claim that I’m mentally ill for saying God speaks to me, I won’t turn my back on my faith. Indeed, my faith has grown stronger over the past few years. The more I feel attacked, the more Christian I become. When you tell me prayers are useless, I’ll pray harder, when you tell me I don’t make a difference, I’ll donate more canned goods for the homeless shelter, and when you tell me my words are meaningless, I’ll write another newsletter submission. I will celebrate my relationship with my Lord and Savior, but I will never shut up and go away. Never.
We’ve changed churches and denominations more than once, most recently UMC, We’ve found a non-denominational church that we really like, but still attend other churches from time to time.