why I came to the fellowshipMarch 9, 2011
In an attempt to clean out my very scattered/crowded draft folder, I am publishing/deleting some of these posts. This was written in January 2008 and is most likely based on the paper I wrote for the fellowship on the event of becoming a practicing member. I think this paper does a pretty decent job of capturing why I made that decision and the two years I spent as a practicing member were very good ones for me. While I no longer have any official connection to the fellowship, I continue to live in household and attend the small group that I joined back when I first wrote this post.
I grew up in a strong Mennonite faith community. Everyone I knew was a Christian and believed in God. I grew up attending the same church my grandparents had attended and memorized Bible verses every week in Sunday School. Both of my parents grew up Mennonite and continued to hold their faith in high importance. All around me were good people doing their best to serve God in their lives. However this faith community didn’t do a lot of talking about how they believed in God or how they heard God’s voice or why faith mattered.
For much of high school I struggled a lot with doubts, mainly about the existence of God and the role of the church. I read a lot from the Old Testament and was confused by the ideas of a God who sent bears to punish naughty children or who forcefully advocated for total destruction of enemies. I couldn’t understand how the church who claimed to be the physical embodiment of God’s will and agency on earth could commit such atrocities and inspire such vilification and hatred among different people. I didn’t understand why each religion seemed to want to limit God to only their understanding of him or insist that only their religion was true. While I knew that God was a large part of the community around me that I loved, I didn’t seem to share the same ability to just have faith in God.
Towards the end of high school I participated in a baptism class through my church in Indiana. We met regularly over a period of several months and talked a lot about issues of pluralism, the history of the church, the meaning of baptism and what it meant to choose Christianity. I learned that my doubts were not barriers to being a Christian, but ways of keeping my faith alive and that I didn’t have to have a perfect all the time faith in God in order to choose to be a follower of Jesus. Later that year, I along with several other of my friends got baptized during the Advent season right after 9/11. That season and baptism was a huge influence on me and remains a powerful reminder to me about the ability of faith to help one live in a very broken world.
As I finished up my degree at GC, my friends and I began to try to figure out what we were going to do next. A good friend Jess began to talk about moving back to her home town of Evanston and how it would be fun for a group of us to join her. The idea took root and soon four of us decided to move up to Evanston. We ended up going through R— Apartments in order to find a low cost place to live and quickly realized we were living in the middle of close-knit community. However we also realized that it wasn’t the easiest thing to get to know people within that community. Our first year here was difficult, especially as we could see the community around us, but yet couldn’t connect directly to it. Things did improve as we started going to Monday night potlucks and got connected to small groups. Both my roommate Becca and I got invited into Barb’s small group and that really helped us feel more connected. Therefore last September when the option of becoming a practicing member was given to me, I jumped at the chance. Here was the opportunity for me to connect with this community of faith that I had been observing and so far this has proven to be a wonderful step.
Here at the fellowship I have really appreciated spending time in a community that values a quiet deep faith, encourages discussion of incorporating God into one’s daily life, allows for brokenness and doubts, and also pushes me to take seriously the idea of being intentional about my relationships with those around me.