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I really miss being part of a church community, but I don't have any faith.

(23 Posts)
wanttomakeadifference Sun 19-Aug-12 19:48:53

This is my first post in this topic.

I was brought up as a Roman Catholic by my fathers' side if the family, and sort of neutral by my mum's side. I went to a convent school, although I think it was fairly non-strict in terms of religion (don't have anything to compare it to, it's just a feeling).

My faith sat uncomfortably with me for years. Without wishing to offend anyone, I felt there was so much hypocrisy around me, and so many things that I just couldn't believe in.

After being confirmed I never really went back to church. The few times I have been, I've felt oddly comforted by the familiarity of the service, but I just can't 'believe'.

I guess my thoughts are that I try to live a good life, and to help others. But I don't do this in the name of God.

I really miss the friendship and kindness of a church community, and the sense of belonging.

I'm not sure what I'm expecting from this post TBH, I guess I just wanted to put my thought down on 'paper', and this felt like a good place to do it.

NotGeoffVader Mon 20-Aug-12 10:18:17

Hello, Wantto. I was raised C of E, and for some time in my teens became involved with a bunch of 'born again' people. Initially it was good, but as time passed, like you, I felt that there was a great deal of hypocrisy around, and drifted off.

I'm now a pagan. I have a few friends of the same sort of belief system, and we have occasionally celebrated events together, which has been uplifting and fulfilling but I too miss the sense of community. Not sure that there is anything much I can do though, as I know from something that a friend (practicing witch) said that there are cliques and bitchery (If that is a word) in that community too - I take it that this is not unusual wherever you are.

At the moment I am content enough to do my own thing, but I would love to be able to celebrate the seasons and life events more with open-minded people....

Happy to 'chat' on here if that would be helpful for you. smile

Northernlurkerisonholiday Mon 20-Aug-12 10:21:41

The strength of the church community comes from being a fellowship of believers. You should always be welcome there if you want to find a way to faith. Plenty of churches are full of people who aren't sure where they are at spiritually. However if you are sure you do not have faith and you do not want it then it would be wrong to involve yourself with a church just so you can benefit from the community.

Tommy Mon 20-Aug-12 10:24:25

why not go back to church, find a good community and wait to see what happens on the faith side? You obviously miss it so why not go back? People go to church for many reasons - the community side of it being one of the most important I would say (IME)

MooncupGoddess Mon 20-Aug-12 10:27:28

Maybe worth trying the Quakers or Unitarians - both nice welcoming sects who are less hung up on doctrine and belief?

StuckInTheFensAwayFromHome Mon 20-Aug-12 10:29:56

wanted your post sounds so familiar to me...

Also brought up Catholic, and in my heart I do believe in God, and even to a certain extent I believe in Jesus as the Son of God on Earth. But I have been disillusioned by religion/organised faith so many times that I can't call myself a Christian or a Catholic. As a child I hated the hypocrisy of people that 'act' pious and go to church but act with malica, of church leaders that have abused their positions of power to enrich themselves personally. I even was prepared to put that aside at uni, and was friendly with some younger (more born again type) Christians but they were even worse and very militant that you are either 'in' or 'out'.

I have at times in life found that 'community' and sometimes they are Christian and sometimes they're not - there doesn't seem to be a correlation. At the moment I'm in a new area and also feel a bit of a void that I'm not feeling part of a community howeve I do think that it will come with time, so I don't worry about it, even if I'm aware I miss it.

springydaffs Tue 21-Aug-12 19:43:25

I'm the opposite: I have a faith - signed, sealed christian - but can't abide the church.

bless em confused

bless me, actually

in fact, bless us all

neontetra Fri 24-Aug-12 21:29:24

I agree with what Tommy said. I've no idea whether most of the people I know from church believe the same things as me, and I don't really care. If they're happy to be there, I'm happy they're there. You should go to church if you miss it.

headinhands Sat 25-Aug-12 15:15:57

mad as for god judging the heart. Jeremiah says The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?. If it all comes down to god knowing the heart and that's how he'll judge us, why bother with all the rules, animal sacrifice, Jesus dying on the cross etc.

headinhands Sat 25-Aug-12 15:18:22

Sorry, wrong thread.

MortenHasNiceShirts Mon 27-Aug-12 18:41:41

However if you are sure you do not have faith and you do not want it then it would be wrong to involve yourself with a church just so you can benefit from the community.

Why? As long as you're not openly deriding everyone else's faith I can't see what the problem would be.

springydaffs Mon 27-Aug-12 20:43:43

I agree with Morten on this. The church used to be the centre of the community but that's all gone now and there is nowhere else to get it. also, imo, God is delighted to see you iyswim and more than happy to bless you through other people in the church, no questions asked.

MoreBeta Mon 27-Aug-12 21:06:00

wanttomakeadifference - I have felt the same as you since I was 18.

I was brought up vaguely CofE until age 11 then sent to a strict Methodist boarding school with chapel 8 times a week. I really rejected the pious nature of much of the lay preaching I saw there. It was very hypocritical much of it. Since leaving school I probably went in a church once a year.

I have thought about going to my local Quaker meeting house as I think faith and religion should be a private thing from within. I try to do good by others and have my own personal basically 'christian' creed. I still felt uneasy with the public nature of the 'praying' that happens in Quaker meeting houses although I like their views on many aspects of life.

springydaffs - "The church used to be the centre of the community but that's all gone now and there is nowhere else to get it."

A few years ago I moved to a new city and felt very strongly the desire to be part of the community. I worked for a local charity for a while but that closed and recently I have started ringing the bells in our cathedral. Most of the bell ringers are not really openly religious but the sense of doing something communal, which links church to community is important to me. The people of the city and the congregation in the church never see us as we hide away in the tower. I hope that people like the sound of the bells even if they dont come to church and perhaps pause to reflect.

Its odd, after being away from religion and church for so long I feel happy going there now and feel like I am part of our community.

MooncupGoddess Tue 28-Aug-12 13:21:50

That sounds lovely MoreBeta - I have always vaguely fantasised about bell ringing! It's such a lovely uplifting sound.

Japple Thu 30-Aug-12 12:25:08

...That You Exist and even are Able to Ask questions about in itself
A Testament to His existance.You all may Wonder just "Where"your Faith
Has Gone...but He has Faith in You.Talk is Cheap-but by your Actions You
are Known.Keep up All of your Good Works...and give Thanks that you Exist
And are Able to Do these Good Works? Jill.

amillionyears Thu 30-Aug-12 12:28:39

Would you consider going to a different denomination.
For me,it isnt the sort of church that matters,
I try to stick to the bible.So I look for a church that also sticks to the bible.

wanttomakeadifference Fri 31-Aug-12 11:17:31

Thank you all so much for your input, I have found the different viewpoints on this thread really thought provoking.

I few posters suggested looking for a different type of denomination, which I will have a think about. I would like to be part of something local to my home though, or maybe that's a bit shortsighted?!

Northern suggested that "if you are sure you do not have faith and you do not want it then it would be wrong to involve yourself with a church just so you can benefit from the community", this is the type of feeling that makes me feel it might be wrong for me to become part of my local church community.

However, I would like to clarify that I don't simply want to benefit from the community myself- I would like to be part of a body of people that makes a positive difference to people's lives.

In fact one of the things that used to bother me about regular church attendance was that there we were, 150 or so people gathered in one place, in the name of God. We said our prayers, sang a little, listened and thought hard, gave thanks, asked forgiveness etc.. Then after the hour was over everyone went home, back to their lives but we hadn't actually done anything much. I couldn't help but wonder what that 150 people could have done together as a group to actually help people (a bit of shopping for the person who couldn't get out and about, mowing the lawn for someone, providing some company for a lonely person, some practical help for a new mum....).

I'm rambling now, apologies blush.

springydaffs Fri 31-Aug-12 16:26:58

oh my goodness, let's start a church, you and me wink

I see by your nnn that you want to make a difference and imo the church has the power (in more ways than one) to make a difference. As you say, it's often a little club....... I could go on

there are churches out there that 'make a difference' - your local church very probably 'makes a difference' but you have to dig for it so keep a lookout for what they do in the community.

<jaded, moi?>

springydaffs Fri 31-Aug-12 16:29:18

the sally army is known for 'making a difference'. I've never been to any of their services (maybe I should give it a go but the uniform puts me off ) but I really rate their proactive response to need. There they are, always there at the front line, quietly serving - <heart>

Tinymrscollings Tue 25-Sep-12 17:31:55

I think it's absolutely fine to be a member of the church community and not be absolutely sure about your faith.

I'm a lifelong churchgoer and I'm not afraid to say that I find the weekly opportunity to be quiet with my thoughts, count ny blessings, think about others and recharge a little very valuable, but I have some reservations about faith in general. I think of the church as a group of likeminded people who live by a set of values that I share.

My kind of God isn't worried about your motives - if you're there and you find it a fulfilling way to live your life then that's enough.

Second the earlier poster who suggested Bell ringing - I sing in the choir. It's my way of bringing something to the party :-)

HolofernesesHead Sat 29-Sep-12 18:51:33

I'm quite pleased to say that the church I go to has at least three people I can think of, who are quite involved, and very caring members of the community, who are self-defining as atheists but just love the community. They don't take communion or go up for a blessing, and probbaly mumble the prayers (I don't watch, I'm too busyu praying! wink)but they are equally loved, equally valued, equally accepted, as anyone else.

BodyUnknown Sat 29-Sep-12 23:38:22

I was brought up CofE and have been to church very sporadically all my adult life - more for the peace and contemplation than by reason of a certainty of my faith. Last year I had a profound experience that I wrote about here on Mumsnet, and I was baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was odd really, because on the whole I had enjoyed my years of smoking and drinking and generally having fun and I certainly wasn't looking for a new church, particularly one I knew to be fairly proscriptive in its standards.. But when it happened, it happened and I knew in my heart that the Church was right for me (and I've attended a few over the years, CofE and Quaker and non-denominational). I know the LDS church isn't for everyone but I suppose what I'm saying is just visit a few, because you'll know when you've found the right one...and it really might not be the one you expect. It certainly wasn't for me! I go to Church every Sunday now without fail, even on holiday, and I love the community, the service, the members and the simplicity of the gospel. I am so happy to have found a church that's right for me, and whatever your path may be, I don't think it matters that you don't have certainty over your faith. Very many regular church-goers don't, and anyway faith is constantly developing... You will be welcomed wherever you go, I am sure.

GrimmaTheNome Sun 30-Sep-12 16:54:21

OP, I was brought up in a church (URC) which was like an extended family. I loved it. Going back for my parents' funerals was bittersweet - such lovely people who'd known me since I was a baby. But having totally lost belief in God, the idea of going to a church is impossible.

>I really miss the friendship and kindness of a church community, and the sense of belonging.

me too. Unlike many organisations, there were all generations.

>I would like to be part of a body of people that makes a positive difference to people's lives.

Heck yes. Probably in cities there are some such but I don't know of anything where I am.

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