Church #8 part 5

oops! I just fixed this below, as it turns out two X’s in Roman numerals is 20…so the articles we looked at were 20 and 21 and not 10 and 11. Where my fact checkin’ fans at?

Another Sunday morning started off with hearing some of the 39 articles. This past Sunday we learned about articles 20 and 21. Article 20 was removed and returned several times; I don’t know why. Other articles seem more questionable than this does. I’ll define it briefly: rules can be made outside of the bible as long as they don’t contradict the bible or make the bible contradict itself. Now the bible is a challenging document to pour over entirely, but I’m sure it contradicts itself sometimes. I guess people can decide themselves how to make peace with that. Basically the article is just outlining a guide on rule-making. We also heard further that there are three steps to resolving disagreements about rules or rules to be made. They are 1) scripture 2) tradition 3) reason. This means that when deciding to set up or review a rule you need to first figure out if scripture can resolve it. If scripture is ambiguous on the point you go with tradition. If tradition doesn’t help, you use reason. And if reason fails, I guess you form a new branch of religion. You know, because this is probably how most offshoots start- from a disagreement. I said the bit about creating a new church at the talk, but no one laughed. Oh well.

Article 21 states that Princes may meet to make rules and that they can make mistakes if they stray from scripture. So, this article is related to the last one and gives a bit of room for the Episcopal church to be wrong sometimes. I’ve actually been complaining for a while now that groups and power figures are not allowed to be wrong by the public. We don’t let politicians change their mind without then name-calling them wishy washy. Everyone needs room to be wrong. I also learned that the word ‘Princes’ refers today to the bishops across the US. In England the bishops are technically still advised by the the queen, but I imagine in reality that it’s more like the other way around.

Overdue- a church tale

I guess it’s about time I got into one of my experiences with leaving a church. I think about it a lot. Especially when visiting churches and observing how a church involves and interacts with those coming in the door. It is a church I used to belong to and then made the hard decision to leave. I’m not revealing the name because it doesn’t really matter- it could really be anywhere. I will call it OldChurch.

OldChurch seemed like a really great place to be. In many ways it was. We had a variety of members with different views of how to live their Christianity. Each week at service we all greeted each other during a very vigorous passing of the peace in which we left our seats and wandered about for few minutes. It made me feel close to everyone to be able to smile and talk to them about their lives and families. OldChurch had some pretty good ministries for the needy and shared the building with other groups that did good works during the week. I volunteered for a number of projects at OldChurch and liked the fellowship dinners we held afterwards. I was often asked to help out with projects once it became clear I liked doing so. And things went well.

Now I tend to get into depressions periodically; sometimes they are mild and sometimes worse. I deal with that in a variety of ways and at a variety of speeds, but so far I’ve always come out on the other side. Well it was getting to that again and I was feeling blue. I was asked to participate in an event as one of the leaders. I said no. This was met with total confusion. Tracey said no? But she always says yes. Well no was my answer and they weren’t going to get a different one by acting surprised. But it didn’t end there. I was asked to help with several other projects, each of which I declined. More confusion followed. It was somehow incomprehensible that I refuse. It slowly became clear that these were seen as duties I was shirking. I was there to serve and it was not a choice. It was a requirement. That’s saying nothing of the fact that I was going through something kinda heavy at the time. It began to be a drag to show up on Sunday. It made me sad. Finally I realized it was more painful to attend church than stay home. So I left.

Many times I wondered how this could happen. I loved these people and this place. All the same OldChurch drove me away. I do not blame any individual member. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault. Rather I think it was a damaging mentality that managed to pervade a lot of what we did as a church group. Take for instance the treatment of visitors vs members: we were really big into greeting visitors warmly. It was one of the things that first drew me to OldChurch. But more energy was focused on greeting newcomers than becoming close to current members. No one saw that I was having a problem because there was no one I was really close to. Giving hugs and asking after one’s family is nice, but no one really knew me beyond that. So I felt alone and no one really understood or even tried. The second problem was the high focus on church participation. It should never have felt like volunteering was an obligation. And I don’t think that was the intent. But it happened. Words were used like ‘spiritual gifts’ and ‘be more’. There was a campaign to do more as a church. At the same time OldChurch was experiencing low membership and money problems. I think the idea was to become so active and vibrant that people would be drawn to OldChurch and fill the seats- thus solving attendance and money issues. Besides not working, this plan created undue pressure to ‘volunteer’. And this pressure was not something I imagined. One of my last interactions with OldChurch was a fundraiser, the paperwork for which I was handed and told “There’s no one else to do this.” As I understand it the woman who gave me the task was herself handed the paperwork and told, “Don’t worry, Tracey will do it.” So, while I felt very attached to OldChurch, I had to admit there were serious problems and it was time to leave.

One of the main things I take from this experience (besides sadness) is an aversion to false closeness. I wonder if that comes with territory though. Churches are an entity unlike most others in our world. They aren’t exactly a business, although they do require money. They aren’t exactly a set of friends because they don’t always have common interests or know everyone in the group. They aren’t exactly a club because they deal with matters of the importance of life and what we are here for. And they aren’t a governing body because they really can’t enforce the rules they preach. So what in hecks are they? They are something unique. And that means churches cannot expect to be a business or a club, or a government or a set of friends. I think churches need realistic expectations about what they are. You should not expect to be close to everyone in your church. You should expect friendliness from everyone and the possibility of close friendship with a few. I think there is another question to be answered here as well: should we serve the church or should the church serve us? Is the church as an entity mainly a place where people find things they seek, or where people go to serve others? Is there a way to do both effectively? I guess the answer could go either way depending on the church. With OldChurch it was a problem with too much serving others and not enough taking care of members internally. Other churches may have the opposite problem. Ultimately I think it is about balance. And again I am back to the refrain “that’s why I’m doing this project”- to see how possible such a balance is and if there are churches doing it right or wrong.

Church #9, St. Thomas the Apostle

Date: 4/1/12

Church: Saint Thomas the Apostle

Pastor: Father- I didn’t even get to meet him. No idea.

Time Spent: 10:30-11:45am

Overall Impression: Ehhhh…

Type: Roman Catholic

Format: Standard Roman Catholic format in short: Song, 3 bible readings, chant/song, sermon, prayer intentions, chant/song, communion, blessing

Thoughts: This church felt like the most boring example of the most boring example of a church. It was Palm Sunday for crying out loud! That’s supposed to be one of the best and most interesting Sundays all year. I like my Catholic heritage and find the familiar formula very comforting. But this was a really dry experience for me. I wonder if the problem lies in the issues with priest shortage. The church was ridiculously filled and there were two other masses; one before and after. It felt rather like we were cattle being packed in and then shooed out to make room for the next bunch. There was no coffee hour or fellowship time after mass. The priest didn’t even stand in the doorway to meet exiting parishioners. Not a single person said hello to me outside the passing of the peace- which is basically mandatory, cursory, and felt meaningless. I am totally ashamed of this church and want desperately to see a better example ASAP to remind me of what I love about church.

Overall Feelings: Disappointed.

Church #8 part 4

I am currently doubling up on church visits, but not church services. I am still going to the 39 articles series at St Stephen’s. After the morning talk, I proceed to whatever church was next on my list. Unless I encounter a conflict of course. Then I’ll have to play it by ear. The next church on my list gets it’s own post, so scroll up to see that.

Anyways, more people are recognizing me at St Stephen’s; I’m finding both goods and bads with this. It is nice to say hi to new folks who ask about the project. But I’m also getting a slightly clingy vibe. This is something that happens to some degree in nearly every church I’ve ever been to new. Churches like getting new members. Often, they like it so much that they overwhelm visitors with messages to ‘join us!’ ranging from welcome packets, to talking your ear off about how great the church is, to acting mildly offended that you consider not coming back. I’m not saying this is a necessarily a selfish act on the part of the church or members. For one thing, Christians are taught that those who don’t believe are going to hell. And if you haven’t been to other churches outside your own, maybe you can’t be sure any other churches will get it right. So people have to attend your church because their very soul is at stake. That reason is not selfish, it’s really the opposite. Also I know that church makes some people really really happy and they want to share that, even if it doesn’t work that way for everybody. Whatever the reasons, I’ve seen a lot of churches overdo it with the please-join-us business and they wind up sounding desperate. Best way to do it and not overdo it? Jury of me is still out on that one. I know there is such a thing as undergreeting. (see my post on church #9, coming soon) The subject is worth some thought and it’s own post. I’d like to tackle this at some point soon.

To the group at St Stephen’s: Guys, I’m not staying. And it isn’t a reflection of what kind of place it is or the job you are doing. The church seems fine, everyone seems nice. But I’ve got my reasons, embedded in the project and otherwise. And I’d like to think that in a way (because this is the first church with more than two people checking out the blog) I sort of am staying. Maybe I’m staying a little bit at all the places I visit. My blog could be a way to keep that up and even connect a few people to each other. Could my blog turn into the hottest thing since baked bread? Idk. Stay tuned…

Church #8 part 3

The project is starting to really get exciting. While I knew the internet was a great way to connect people and ideas, I guess I didn’t really think my blog would be good at that. Well, the blog got a ton of traffic recently, and I think much of it might be from the site-sharing going on with members of St Stephen’s. I had several people identify who I was at church today with ‘oh you’re the one with the blog!’

I will jump right into some elaboration regarding that pesky article 13. Father Egan told us this morning that many people were confused by it. I will try to update it based on what he said. Yes I do still think the original article is rather severe sounding and possibly needs to be reworded. I will give you the text and then the explanation. Here is the article word for word:

Article XIII (13) Of works before Justification-
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

And the explanation from this morning is as follows: From an earlier article we learned that through Adam we are sinful- not because of a sin he did, but because he was by nature a sinful person. I guess it could be restated as saying humans can sin. (Just in case you are like me and aren’t convinced there was a literal Adam) So sin is in all of us, in our DNA as it were. The article is meant to refer to ANYONE outside of justification as being in a state of sin. Even if they do good works. The good works are still good, but you need justification. And justification, while a little bit hard to pin down, means approximately- allowed into heaven because of faith and grace. So who is outside justification? I guess atheists and babies? And the do-gooding atheists are probably ahead on that one because babies don’t really know how to do good works yet. Another example that was used was the Christian that attends church every Sunday vs. the part timer who comes on Christmas vs. the non-believer. Ok I have to admit I didn’t completely follow on this one. I think it has to do with how invested you are in your faith and thereby how likely to be in on the grace and the justification. Maybe someone else understood it and can let me in.

Other articles we heard about this Sunday included one that specifies ONLY JESUS was without sin. It directly opposes the Catholic view that Mary who gave Jesus birth was also sin-free. Fun fact: Virgin Mary was the one being conceived during the immaculate conception, NOT Jesus. That, just to reiterate, is a Catholic viewpoint on the topic. We also touched briefly on what the Anglican church calls ‘sins against the Holy Spirit’. They are the sins of not listening to knowledge and willfully shutting out the truth. I thought this was really interesting because different people can see different things as true. A great example is that fictional atheist we keep talking about. He believes it is a fact that God does not exist. Is that seen by the Episcopal church as willful self deception? How are we to judge whether someone is lying to the world or to themselves? Or just confused? And how are we to know if we are confused and someone else has the truth? It is something I’ve been stumbling with for several years now. There doesn’t really seem to be a satisfactory answer. But that’s part of my project too. Seeing how others satisfy themselves with their faith and trying to find the tools I need to satisfy myself with my own belief as it grows and changes.

My plan for next week is to attend the 9:30 talk at St Stephen’s and then scoot over to my next stop -St Thomas the Apostle. It should be a nice chance to revisit my roots and talk about some of the stuff I grew up with as well.

Church #8 part 2

Additional thoughts:

For those just tuning in, the next couple weeks I am continuing to visit St Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Not because I think I’ve found a spiritual home, or because I have found Episcopal is my new brand of choice- nope. But because the church happens to be giving a very interesting series of talks on what Episcopalians believe (or are supposed to believe).

I am noticing that visitors in a new church can belong instantly if they 1) act like they know the pastor AND 2) act like they own the place. People are starting to assume I’ve been coming to church for a long while and they just didn’t notice me before, and I think it’s because I wander the church like it’s my church. And I do talk easily with anyone willing to talk to me including the priest. (I talk a lot btw.) It also makes it easier to ‘sneak in’ to churches where new members don’t get the mob welcome. You may attend for a long while before getting to know most of the other members. It’s something I used to notice a lot from Catholic churches as well. (Big surprise right?)

This past Sunday I heard a bit more about Catholic Queen Mary and her putting back of all the Catholic stuff. Then she died and the Catholic stuff went away AGAIN. Those people in England must have been SO confused. And Queen Elizabeth had a total mess to deal with politically and religious-wise. They were so tied together back in the day.

This project is bringing out so much unexpected stuff. The articles of religion this week went from 10-13. As it turns out, the 39 articles of religion are mostly about how Anglicans are like Catholics and how they are not like Catholics. And apparently about how I am like neither. Article XIII (13) is about how good works which are done outside of the knowledge of Christ are not pleasing to God and have the nature of sin. That’s right, the Anglican church says good works are really not good enough if you don’t believe in God and Jesus. It even calls them sinful. The “atheist down the street” we heard about who does good stuff still isn’t as good as the Christian with Jesus in his heart. And further, the Christian does not have to try to do good works because (from several articles before that one) if he has faith, good works naturally follow. This idea is nice in a fairytale kind of way, but I don’t think it can be right in the context of reality. At least not all the time. I am sure there are atheists who do more good works than I do. Just because I believe in someone does not mean I get a free pass to never push myself to do good works. And I doubt the good things done by an atheist count for less than the ones I do. A good thing is a good thing. So I’m calling bullstuff on article 13. Of course if the actual article was amended to the explanation I got regarding doing works to please yourself or gain respect as sinful, that’s another story. But it’s not. Well, maybe it should be.

Church #8, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Date: 3/11/12

Church: St Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Pastor: Father Adam Egan

Time Spent: 9:30-10:30 lecture prior to service, 10:30-12noon service

Overall Impression: Seems nice

Type: Episcopal, member of the Anglican Communion (it means they are linked to the Anglican church in England from which the Episcopal Church split off in the early days of the US)

Format: The service is very formalized and structured, similar to what you would find in a Roman Catholic Church. In fact, much of it is word for word what is used in the Catholic church. Every part of service has certain words which are used and well known by the congregation. It is very formulaic. If I don’t miss my guess, most Episcopal churches are going to be the same. Rough format is: silent confession of sins, readings from the old and new testament, sermon, statement of belief, prayer intentions, communion, prayer- all interspersed with songs from hymn books.

Thoughts: A bit of an unusual Sunday to the project, I started out by attending a talk at the church about the 39 articles of religion. This turned out to be (awesomely) something of a history and church doctrine lesson. There will be continuation of it for several more Sundays and I’m strongly tempted to put the project on hold and attend all of them. Putting that aside for a moment, I will talk about the service itself.

Inside the church was bright, clean, and adequately warm. I was greeted by several attendees of the 9:30 talk who made chit-chat with me. At the church service itself I was given a cursory greeting by a bunch of different members, especially during the “passing of the peace”. It serves as kind of a hello time for all the members and falls a little outside the formality. This church did a moderately subdued musical chairs style passing of the peace, with some people leaving their seats. The rest of the service was expectedly very formal. The good thing about this church was that the entire formula we were expected to follow was printed in the bulletin. The only difficulty I had was in switching from holding the bulletin to holding the hymn book, to holding the page of the bible readings, which happened several times back and forth.

The sermon was more on the topic of the history of the Anglican church. Here is what I learned:

Much of the format and prayers used in services comes from a book called The Common Book of Prayer. The original version of the book was compiled in 1549, from existing sources mostly, by a dude named Thomas Crammer. He was an advisor to King Henry VIII. After King H died and his son took over, Crammer instituted some minor/huge changes, depending on how you look at it. It was a big deal at the time. He removed idols, images, and relics, because they distract from us praying right to God. He instituted weekly communion. At that time the Catholic church only had communion on Easter. He also emphasized the idea of grace and the fact that God loves us. And most cool of all, he had English used in service instead of Latin! The uncool part was when Queen Mary took over and had Crammer burned for refusing to stick to his recantation of the new church.

There were other familiar parts to the service here and there. The communion used wine like a Catholic mass. The congregation sang a slower version of the doxology. Prayer requests were all followed by a response “Lord, have mercy”. Basically this felt like a bridge between all the Catholic and Methodist churches I have attended with any regularity. Very interesting and intriguing.

Overall Feelings: Felt very familiar. Not as energetic as some denominations can be. That can be ok, boisterous worship is not for everyone.

Project Direction: I’ve decided. I am changing a rule. I was so taken by the timing of finding a church that explains it’s own history and doctrine as I happened to show up, that I am going to stay for a few Sundays. It seemed like such a shame to just move on and miss all that info. It is after all, my project, so I’m going to get my fill of Anglicanism before moving on. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thoughts up to the moment

I find myself wanting to reflect on where I am with this project overall. I don’t want change it, but I’m looking for something cohesive about the last seven weeks that hold them together in some way. Some of my observations so far may be a good start:

Assumptions are powerful.

Part of showing up to a church for the first time means people make assumptions about you. Who are you? What are you doing there? What do you want? And I’m not saying assumptions are all bad. We make assumptions all the time. Someone has long, styled hair, a curvy body and wears lipstick, you assume they are a female. We rarely assume gender incorrectly and it would be difficult to interact with someone if we didn’t make a few assumptions about them. Living in an area populated by English speakers, I wouldn’t start talking in Spanish to someone new I’ve just met. I assume they speak English. So far I’m correct. As far as my project goes, there have clearly been assumptions made each and every Sunday I’ve shown up at a new place. At the very first church I visited I was told (as a selling point) that the church has “plenty of single young ladies”. I have to believe this was because they assumed I was a single young lady and wanted peers. Well, I look young and showed up alone. It’s not like I’m offended, it’s just interesting to note. Another big assumption made several times over is regarding the nature of my search. What do I want in showing up at a new church? The assumption: I want a spiritual home. Again, it’s not like I’m offended. Most people going to a church for the first time want this. In a way, I’m not reviewing churches at all. I’m reviewing how churches treat newcomers. I have welcome packets from nearly all the churches I visited. They are all oriented towards new members. Many of them use the word ‘home’ or ‘welcome’. When I go up to the pastor after service they (usually) try to assume intelligently and not guess in the dark, often asking my religious background. I tell them I was raised Catholic. The natural guess from that alone is that I am looking for a new version of Christianity. Many pastors follow up by asking what I am looking for. Some places this also happens with others in the congregation. I like the questions, because they help minimize assumptions. I usually say I’m doing a personal project to visit area Christian churches and learn. Once I actually said learn things and teach things. Which brings me to my next observation,

I like churches that assume I’m smart

This is not to say I want a church to recognize that I’m more intelligent than the average person. Of course I think that I am (don’t we all?) but comparison with others is not what I’m talking about. I really want a church that recognizes the people inside as smart enough to know things regarding God and Jesus. This is a thing I definitely dislike about my Catholic heritage. The way the church is structured is very formal. There are various ranks starting at the parishioner and ending with the Pope. Each is supposed to have more knowledge and answers, making the people stupid, and the Pope infallible. A woman who works at a Catholic church I used to attend once told me that as a child she was not allowed to read the bible. The Catholic church at the time discouraged it; the idea being that without guidance of a priest or other clergy member, the casual bible reader might misinterpret it to their own detriment. I don’t know how far this really went. I read the bible as a child, at least a junior version. And I had the real thing available to me since middle school. But that’s getting off track. My point is, some churches act like their members are stupid. I like it best when I churches act like their members are smart. This, as most of my observations, is hard to judge based on a single visit. There are some good clues though. I like getting encouragement to read the bible myself. I really appreciate a sermon that goes into some depth historically. And I love it when those I talk to seem to view my project in a positive light. Then I know they trust me to be able get it right on my own, rather than needing to return to their church in order to escape damnation. I guess the biggest plus to having a church assume you are smart is the aspect of learning vs teaching. I think it’s maybe possible that I could have something to teach others who are different from me. I want this project to not only be me learning new things, but teaching others new things. I may be just dreaming about this last part, but it’s my wish that others can be open to listening to what I say, as I’m open to listening to what they say.

Where does this leave me?

Well, I’m not sure. My project continues hopefully next Sunday when I am feeling in normal health. I’m ready to hit a couple of churches more in my original tradition. I’ve rarely done a Catholic church as a stand-alone, so that will be something to note for sure. I definitely will have a better idea what to expect there than churches I’ve never heard of before. I will try not to get too many expectations in my head though, and just let the experience be what it is. I am thinking of contacting several churches I’ve been to and sharing the blog address. It might benefit them to have an account of how I felt as a visitor, especially if there were negatives. A friend of mine recently pointed out to me that criticism doesn’t have to be automatically negative. For one thing, it can help you improve. And it could be seen as a sign of respect. If you really didn’t care about a thing, you wouldn’t be bothering. I remember saying something very similar to a friend of mine in a leadership position. He was directing me and I decided to be bold enough to tell him what he was doing wrong, instead of just assuming he had somehow turned into a jerk. I said, “You are my friend and I’m letting you know because of that reason. Otherwise I would just ignore you. I don’t want to do that.” I cared for this person and wanted him to be better. And I care about Christian groups in my area. If I didn’t, I would just ignore them. I don’t want to do that.

Church #7, Mount Moriah Church

Date: 2/26/12

Church: Mount Moriah Church

Pastor: Pastor Jesse Holt (youth pastor)

Time Spent: 11am-1pm

Overall Impression: Seems fine

Type: No idea. This place could be any brand of Christianity for all I can tell in terms of denomination. I did however manage to scare up a few descriptors from the literature I was given:

The regular pastors have training from the Faith School of Theology and Zion Bible Institute and International Bible Institute and Seminary. The church beliefs are described by a series of bible quotes from the new testament I’m not going to run though. The service is described as Spirit-filled, with brief explanations of tongues, lifting hands, and falling under the power.

*Update* 10/6/13 This church has no denomination and considers itself independent, however it originally formed out of an apparent difference of opinion and subsequent splitting of an Assemblies of God congregation into two groups following the introduction of new church leadership.

Format: songs, invitation to prayer up front with laying of hands, extensive prayer to the internet viewer (yeah services are on the web via church website), announcements, black history month presentation, offering, youth speakers, sermon

Thoughts: Ok before I go on, what is the deal with the word ‘corporate’? I have never ever heard the word corporate used to describe anything that wasn’t an extensive business. But this year in my project I have heard it used at three different churches to describe group worship. What is the deal? Is this some kind of take-back-the-english-language movement I don’t know about? Anyone who can enlighten me, please leave a comment.

So back to the church. I arrived in the middle of something. It was 10:55am, I should have been on time. Turned out to be bible study in the worship space. Way to confuse me, but ok that’s fine. I was greeted EXACTLY THE RIGHT AMOUNT. Listen up and I’ll give you the formula. In order to greet someone (like me anyway) new exactly right, the greeters should give a 4-6 minute window between greetings. Each new person said hello to me about six minutes after the last one did. This let me relax between greetings and helped me remember the names better. Also it served to show me that each one didn’t just follow suit, but saw I was new and decided on their own to greet me. The greeting length is important too. The interaction was limited to saying hello, welcome, and one or two questions about me, after which I was left alone. This interaction showed that the person was interested in me, but wasn’t so clingy as to become creepy. This is the style of greeting I advise, based on me and what I like. Seems like it might work for others as well, but I can’t be 100% sure, as I’m not everyone else.

The rest of the service was good, if long. Another unusual Sunday I suppose. The regular pastor was not there and there were the youth speakers and the black history presentation. The congregation seemed boisterous, culturally mixed, noisy, and there were lots of kids around. Mentally, I had a big reaction to the youth speakers. It wasn’t anything they said in their short message. It just sometimes happens when I think about how neat it would have been to participate in church stuff meant only for youth when I was a youth myself. I get angry about it. Nothing much was available like that when I was younger. I felt different from others, but in church you are supposed to feel good about yourself and love everyone. That’s what I took from my religious upbringing- mainly love others. But most of those I went to school with came from exactly the same Catholic background I did. And so many of them seemed to not get the loving others part. I have no idea if youth activities with the church would have reflected the way it was in school or the getting along part. I feel like the discrepancy between the two has affected me even as an adult. But that won’t change just because I’m upset. So I suppose it makes me just hope that the experience for these kids and young adults in this church can be a really positive one such as I didn’t get.

The rest of the message was given by the youth pastor. It ran a little long but had a lot of really accessible ideas:

Integrity was a key point. A quote from R. Buckminster Fuller ,”Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” A quote from the pastor, “Integrity means taking responsibility for what God wants for you.” The idea of wholeness as one of the synonyms for integrity was touched as well. “One needs to be whole first before doing for others.”

It is a good idea not to wear yourself out. Integrity also means doing enough but not doing too much. I like it, it’s easy to understand and makes good sense.

Overall Feelings: Wish I could have stayed after service. I was basically starving for lunch and left in a hurry.