In the last Noelle, As She Wanders installment of church shopping, I was in Seattle. Then I went to Thailand, got my Dive Master certification, and then returned to Seattle. Then I went to Louisville, Kentucky for a General Assembly Mission Council Meeting, where Bruce Reyes-Chow piqued my interest by talking about “A Church Online.” When I got back to Seattle, I wanted to pick up where I left off, so I went to Newport Presbyterian Church, which is a very progressive and social justice-oriented church, on the East side of Lake Washington. I went to the early Sunday service, as I wanted to drive to visit with a friend afterwards. So, chances are that this wasn’t the best time to experience the congregation – there were tons of kids and families with kids. Not all of them were young kids, but I probably owe it to the church (and to myself) to go back for the 11am service. The language in many of the songs was male centered and that was rather off-putting to me, but the sermon was very interesting. This was at least a month ago at this point, so I am not sure what it was – but it got me thinking at the time!
At some point not too long after that, I was approached by someone whose name I’d heard on twitter, and who was also on the Leadership Team of Bruce’s A Church Online, to see if I was interested in being his Ruling Elder counterpart in a part of the church. I was very interested (and still am, not to make that sound only past tense!) in working with the other members of the Leadership Team, to create this church.
In terms of my church shopping, this Church Online is much more my speed. For the past few years, my church in LA was less of a place to get fed, and more of a place to feel out of place, but see friends. I always felt bad saying things like that to my former church, but as a single woman without kids in her mid-30s, I didn’t feel like the appropriate demographic. As a part of A Church Online, there is a real feeling (for me, at least) of working on being the church to those that can’t find a place in a church building on Sunday. Making the community that I’ve built slowly online into a real Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation is so exciting to me. I’m thrilled to have a group of people to connect with on a regular basis in a group, instead of “just” via twitter. Working on Mission and sacraments and all the nuts & bolts will be an adventure, but one I’m definitely feeling up to.
How do you do Mission if you’re not in the same physical region? Do we all go out and do the same thing on the same day in different areas? Is there a way to really connect mission in different regions with an online community? I would argue that there is a way to do it. I went to Nicaragua in 2006 with the Presbytery I am still currently affiliated with, along with a pastor from PingTung Presbytery in Taiwan. We were interested in working on triangulated mission. I then was asked to go to Taiwan to speak about it. Nothing came of it (that I know of), but the options are out there. We are a connectional church, we will figure it out, I’m confident of that.
A Church Online may not be for everyone. It may be something that is an addition to a weekly church service. It may be someone’s only church connection. But, this just proves that it can be for those who need it. I know that it comes at a time where I need a church, and this type of church is what I need.