The following is the description written by one member of our faith community, a description which resonates with many.
We raise children and we are children. We are professionals and street people; we live downtown and in suburbia. We are physically fit and we live with chronic physical and mental pain. We contribute to food banks and we use food banks. We battle addictions in secret and we openly declare ourselves as members of 12-step groups. We celebrate our rainbow world of sexual orientations, gender identities, colours, and religious backgrounds. We are single and widowed. We are in kindergarten and soon to turn ninety. We belong to one-person families, two-father families, mother-father families, and groups that are so close and extended that they get called ‘family thickets,’ rather than family trees.
At church, we call each other by first name—whether we are children, seniors, adults, or clergy. Our youngest members both serve and receive communion—and we announce that we serve rice cakes for people with allergies and grape juice ‘in solidarity with those recovering from addiction.’ If we are old enough to read, we read scripture. If we have some skills and lots of spirit, we preside, preach, sing, and deliver communion to shut-ins.
Our prayers are to “Mother-Father God” and we avoid words like “lord.” We welcome questioning about our faith so while many of us wonder if the Bible is the literal word of God or even if Jesus of Nazareth ever really existed, we’re welcome to pursue our spiritual journey with this congregation.
Because of who we are, and who we want to be, we call First United a healing congregation—a comforting home for the sick and hungry outsider, and challenging home for people with well-fed bodies but souls that sometimes feel like the hole in a doughnut.