So in three weeks, I've been to three different churches.
Two Sundays ago, I went to my church. St. Thomas. We are currently in the process of building a new church so we are temporarily worshipping at another church at 1230 on Sundays. Not ideal, but I can deal. Not a fan of the other church, the acoustics are weird and I was having a hard time hearing everything. But after my sabbatical it was good to be back with my church family. Our new church will be built on the grounds to the St. Thomas' church that was burned by an arsonist in 1970. During the civil unrest of those times, a lot of folks left St. Thomas and the church went through a transformation focusing more on the local community and became one of the few places of worship in DC that supported LGBT christians. St. Thomas help many funerals for AIDS victims who either didn't have churches, or whose churches wouldn't hold their funerals. St. Thomas has a strong social justice ministry and is very inclusive and supportive of the LGBT community those are the things that drew me to St. Thomas'.
Last Sunday I was in COS, so I went to church with Mom at St. George's. St. G's is an Anglican church. Or as I like to call it, a Nigerian-Anglican church. They left the Episcopal Church because it was too liberal (i.e. allowed gay priests/bishops, supported marriage equality) and aligned themselves with the very conservative Anglican church in Nigeria. It was Palm Sunday so no sermon. Just a reading of the Passions. My sister told me that the week before the sermon had been about "christian marriage." So glad I wasn't there for that. I'll do almost anything for my mother, but I won't sit in a house of worship and be discriminated against. Nope. I would not have caused a scene, because I'm an Episcopalian and we don't do that. But I would have gotten up and left. It was during the Prayers for the People that I saw something funny. They use the 1928 Prayer Book, not the 1972 Prayer book most Episcopalians uses, because the 1972 prayer book is too liberal and takes a lot of the fire and brimstone out of the liturgy. Plus it allows for more welcoming, easier, and modern language. Fewer thees, thous, and wherefores. Anyways, I noticed that when we did the Prayers for the People we prayed for "Christian Rulers" around the world. Hmm. Just Christian ones? Don't we want to pray for them all? Don't we want all of the rulers to be kind, merciful and maintain justice for all their people? The 1972 prayer book says we pray for all the rulers of the world. God loves us. All of us. Not just the Christians.
For Easter Sunday, I ended up going to St. Lukes. I had accepted a birthday invite from an old friend for 1230 before I knew St. Thomas would be worshiping then. So I went to the 1030 service at St. Lukes. St. Lukes is a historically black church just one block away from me. Apparently it was an offshoot of St. Thomas' back when churches were segregated (legally, not culturally as they are today). I was not the only caucasian in the church, there were about a 10 of us in a 100 person church. I felt very welcomed there, but it was definitely different. St. Thomas is more low church (i.e. casual) and St. Luke's is a bit more high church. They had incense. Their thurifer (the guy who swings the incense around) was doing full overhead loops! It was impressive. And a little bit dangerous if you aren't careful. They had a wonderful gospel choir dressed up in robes. And the sermon was good, but a little bit more engaging/participatory than I'm used to. For the most part, you won't hear "Can I get an Ah-men!" at St. Thomas'. But their church is lovely and I was glad I went to Easter service. Oh, somethings are the same wherever you go. There was a teenager in the pew in front of me on his phone the whole service. :-)
I'll be back at St. Thomas' next week. Looking forward to it!