Soliciting opinions on a Church Dilemma
All right, Internet. I'm very interested to know what you think about this Church Dilemma.
Okay, so when we moved to the Absolute Outer Reaches of Far North Seattle we didn't necessarily ASSUME, but we kind of sort of teeny tiny bit did, that we would switch churches, if only because of the distance. It's not that it's a long drive or anything (15 minutes), but there are something like ninety bajillion churches in between our house and our parish. Including one we can WALK TO. And when we moved here, as you may recall, I was all: OH! This is where we'll go to church and this is where our kids'll go to school! EASY PEASY!
You know it didn't work out that way. And despite some sincere effort on my part, the church next door has yet to grow on me (Phillip has never liked it.) We go there when we need to go at a different time or we're feeling lazy or something, but so far (two years in) it doesn't feel like Our New Church.
So it sort of delayed the whole Switch Churches thing. For me it wasn't so much as WANTING to go to a new church but feeling like we were starting a new life? And that included a new church? There wasn't anything compelling me to LEAVE my church, but many of the things that made us stay for so long (namely people) had left/were leaving/were no longer happening. We had kids now, our lives were different, the connections we made at church didn't really NEED attending-the-same-church to keep them going. Does that make sense? I felt like I COULD leave it and it would be fine. (I mean, *we* would be fine. I'm sure the church would get along juuuuust fine without the noisy Cheungs.)
I also wondered if this was part of moving a few times when I was a kid, and living on military bases where a priest only stays for 18 months, then a new one cycles in. I started to feel itchy for a change? I kind of wanted to see what else was out there? I wrote about this a few times on the churchy blog. ANYWAY.
Phillip, I should note, has never been inclined to find a new church. This is partly because he abhors Change and partly because he really really reeeeeally didn't like the church next to our house.
Also, I'm on a Committee and I had a three-year commitment and finally I was like FINE. Maybe when that commitment is up, we'll think about going somewhere closer to home.
Well, Internet. My commitment is up this summer. And I now have a Reason I don't want to go to my church anymore: it doesn't have Sunday School.
When I was growing up it was called CCD. Do they still have CCD? It seems like the churches I've looked at all call it Sunday School. I mean, it's the same thing, so whatever. But it was an hour OUTSIDE of Mass where we had a little churchy lesson and did churchy projects and got roped into the Christmas pageant and I don't know MUCH about Catholicism, but what little I do know comes from CCD. I have naturally assumed my kids would go when they were school-age. And now they are school-age. And there is no CCD.
They do have Children's Liturgy of the Word, which is when first graders on up leave in the middle of Mass for a kid-level gospel and homily and usually a project or something, and then they come back in time for communion. Does this fulfill the Sunday School need? I DON'T KNOW. I am inclined to say NO. For one thing, I want my kids to be in CHURCH. I mean, I'm totally fine for them to go to CLOW, but I don't want that to be The Only Thing? I have the fingernail marks on my wrist from learning how to behave in church and goshdarnit my kids are going to have those too! You know what I mean, right? I don't expect them to APPRECIATE IT or GET ANYTHING out of it right now, but it IS what we do on Sunday mornings and we do it together and one day we'll stop bringing crayons and it will be CHURCH. I look forward to arguing with my teenagers over their attendance! (I will give in. I think. That's another post.)
My church also has special programs for First Communion kids (Wednesday afternoons or something horrible like that), but no regular ongoing religious education program. I suppose we do have the school. But my kids aren't going to go to that school.
And SOOOOOO... I've been looking around. There is a church with (what I hear is) a great Sunday School program. It's basically the same distance from my house as my current parish, which I feel silly about, but we like going there, even Phillip. There may be others, but that's my first choice right now.
But today we went to Mass and I was just thinking about how I recognize all the faces there. I don't know everyone, by far, but I'm comfortable there, I know what's going on, I know all the people who sit near us totally don't mind my MONSTER CHILD OMG SHE WAS HORRIBLE TODAY. I chatted with another parent in the vestibule while we monitored our monster children. We have a new priest and there are things we're struggling with, but honestly, this transition is CAKE compared to the last. We almost left the church BECAUSE of the new priest during the last transition (we were fresh out of college and engaged) but then we grew to ADORE him. I don't feel like we're bailing because the church is no longer... I don't know. Sigh.
I think I, personally, no longer feel (and haven't felt for a while) a strong call to be THERE as opposed to SOMEWHERE ELSE. I am very very curious about Somewhere Else. I've never been able to articulate this well and I don't think Phillip feels it's a good or important reason to do something different. But this Sunday School thing? It bugs. I want my kids to do that extra hour. It feels like a good reason, even if I didn't have all the other stuff going on in my head.
What do you think? I mean, does that seem like a silly reason to you? My mom doesn't think so, the lady I talked to at coffee hour doesn't think so (I told her after she said, "I'm SO GLAD you guys have stuck around!" and I was all, "wellll...") I wonder if I should feel like *I* should be Religious Educating them or something. Or I should START some sort of group with other parents because it's better to AFFECT CHANGE (effect?) than just GIVE UP. (OMG PLEASE DON'T SAY I SHOULD DO THAT.)
I AM OVERTHINKING THIS.