I grew up a PK. That’s Preacher’s Kid and being one in small town Michigan in the 1950s was something that was noted by all around you. (Yes, that’s how old I am.) It was quite clear that there were expectations, though those expectations varied somewhat. Most assumed that the PK acted properly at all times, but there were always those who assumed that PKs would go wild and crazy. I was pretty much the properly behaving sort. My dad was a Methodist minister, and in those days that meant being moved every few years to a new church in a new town. When I was in high school, Dad got assigned to an administrative job not part of a local church in a larger urban area, so I spent high no longer identified as the preacher’s kid, but I still kept up my Methodism by belonging to youth group and such. In college at Michigan State I was active in the Wesley Foundation, the Methodist program for college students.
A couple years after college I went back to school for a Master's degree in Library Science at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and then got a job as a librarian at the university. I continued as a librarian there, in several different positions, until my retirement a few years back. I didn’t actually live in Ann Arbor for those first years but rather in a place out in the country with a friend from my undergrad days. Her dad owned a construction company but chose to live in the country. We rented a place on their property so that Diane could be near her horses.
I did some church shopping in those early days of living there. Diane and her family were Catholic, so their church wasn’t an option. I went to various places and somehow just didn’t feel comfortable. I imagine that a single woman in her twenties finds that to be the case now, and that’s probably something we should work on. I’d heard about Canterbury House -- basically the Episcopal student fellowship -- and decided to give it a try. It was, at that point, a trendy place to be. They had a largish room with tables where folk singers would perform to mixed crowds on Saturday nights, and that same space had Sunday services also with folk singing on Sunday. I found a home there and remained part of Canterbury House as it went through several changes, until it went through a change that essentially phased my friends and me out.
I considered taking a break from church, but one of my friends located a church that he liked, St. Clare’s Episcopal Church. I went a few times and liked it. Now, decades later, it’s still my church and my home. I asked my Methodist preacher dad once how he felt about his daughter having switched denominations, and his reply was that he was just very happy I had found a church I liked.
The years since have mostly been good although there have been some down times. The hardest time was when my friend Diane became ill with what turned out to be a fatal disease, one that slowly took her strength and then her life. I remained with her, doing what I could to be of support, until the end. After that I slowly moved into alcoholism and depression. I was one of the fortunate ones for whom depression meds worked and continue to work. The alcoholism took longer to rectify, but it was friends from church who confronted me with the need to stop drinking and supported me as I took necessary steps. I regularly attend AA meetings.
St. Clare’s is a good church for me to be part of. It has the religious and social views that match mine. I’ve attended more than one gay wedding there, the first one before such marriage was even legal in Michigan. (The couple did the legal stuff across the river in Ontario and the wedding at St. Clare’s with approval by the bishop.) Our building is shared and co-owned with a Jewish congregation, Temple Beth Emeth, so the place I worship on Sunday morning has held Jewish services on Friday night and Saturday morning. More recently, our social hall has provided space on Sunday mornings for a congregation, now called Blue Ocean, that was tossed out of the evangelical Vineyard fellowship because they were affirming of LBGT individuals.
It’s no surprise that when I first came to Second Life one of the first things I looked for was a church. I found the Anglican Cathedral and have been a member there ever since. I still co-lead a Sunday Bible study there and attend the Sunday service. Because the membership, like the Anglican Communion, stretches around the world, the midweek services led by an Australian friend come at a time when I’m asleep. I also attend compline (evening) services held twice a week by a little group that got its start when gays were not feeling welcome at Epiphany and First UCC offered up its chapel. At one point I decided to give the First UCC services a try and found I liked them very much. Now I regularly attend and am very happy to be part of the community.
Joyous Schism / Judy Avery