I'm a Christian. So is Ryan, albeit a little more conservative than I am. Our relationship with Christ is an important one - our marriage and family's foundation is based on it. So with all the moving around we did, to Davis for law school, Buffalo for football, etc., the first step was to find a good church. We don't function right if we're not in church.
When we moved home in 2008, we visited numerous churches before joining Prestonwood Baptist Church. It is an amazingly large church. We like to call it Six Flags Over Jesus. We were blessed with an amazing special needs ministry. Will had a safe and appropriate setting to learn about God while we were in church. And the choir. The choir is the reason why I never wear makeup to church. Prestonwood's choir was way up there on the reasons why we chose to join the church. So we did so on Easter in 2009. We'd found our church home.
Things were great until last year's election season. Up until then, I was really just a happy baptist enjoying some great sanging (yes, sanging) and hearing the word. And the sermons were good. Really good. But it because clear to me that as a baptist who happens to be a democrat, worshiping at Prestonwood was going to be difficult. Sermons were slanted (slanted isn't a strong enough word) to the right. It became... uncomfortable for me to be in church. So I decided to take an election season sabbatical while Ryan and the kids continued to attend the services. After the election was over, I was grateful that our pastor Jack Graham asked the congregation to pray for our president. Things got back to normal. At least I thought they did.
Two weeks ago, a guest preacher took to the pulpit to deliver the weeks message. Gary Frazier was giving a good, passionate sermon that morning. But then things changed. He started talking about gay marriage. Let me say now that I support gay marriage. I know what the Bible says about being gay. And I'm not gay. So therefore, I don't have to atone for that sin in the Bible. I've got a lot of other things I'll have to account for, but I'll deal with those later. Anyway, I support gay marriage. I know that's not in line with what my church believes, but I deal with that.
But where Gary Frazier messed up is when he said the Bible will never be "left." At that point, the sermon got real personal because he was talking to me as a democrat. Politicizing the Bible from the pulpit??? The words certainly made me feel unwelcome in that church at that moment. With my palms sweating and my heart racing, it was the next thing that he said that made me get up and walk out of the church. And that's something I have NEVER ever considered doing, even if I don't agree with the message. Well, Gary Frazier when on to indirectly refer to our president as "wicked," and that's when I'd had enough. I grabbed my LV bag and marched my way right on out of that church.
Then I sat in the hall shaking and I cried. I cried because I knew I was going to have to ask Ryan to consider leaving the church. He loves Prestonwood. And I've been trying to make it work because the reality is I really like it too. He comforted me as I pulled myself together. As we rode home, we talked about how it might be time to look for another church. Ryan understood and I am so grateful for that.
If what Gary Frazier was preaching is what I've got to believe to be a baptist, then I don't want any part of it. I found his blog later that day and not only did he call President Obama wicked, he also called him the anti-christ. Blog post after blog post is about Obama. There is this strange hateful obsession going on with that man, and I can't believe my church gave him a platform. Oh, and he also agreed with Representative Akin. Remember him? The legitimate rape guy? Yep, said he was right and more conservatives need to stand behind him.
And so here we are once again on the hunt trying to find a church. For all we know, we'll be lead to stay at Prestonwood but for now, we have to explore our options.
Today, we visited Watermark Community Church. It's another big church right off of 635 and 75 - you can't miss it. The building is beautiful. It's a nondenominational church and one of my Junior League friends attends. I even ran into her today - TWICE. A big requirement for us is that the church we attend have a special needs ministry. Boy do they! During the 9 am service, Will was with the other kids his age but he had a buddy. If we attend an 11:15 service, they actually have more of a classroom environment set up with a special education teacher and a music therapist. It was really great.
The church itself is so beautiful. Serene is the word that comes to mind. There is an indoor treehouse that the kids can play in. There are rocking chairs outside next to a beautiful pool. There's coffee and tea to take into the service. The worship team was awesome - the music reminded me a lot of the worship I experienced when I participated with Athletes in Action. We were really impressed by the time the pastor took to the stage.
Wouldn't you know that the sermon today was about what the church's core values are??? As we seek out a house of worship, it's important to know what the congregation stands for. Again, we were really, really impressed.
We look forward to going back in a couple of weeks. I would love to hear from folks if they have any experience with this church - I'd appreciate it! Stay tuned!