Sunday, June 22, 2014

ON THE PEW BESIDE YOU :SCS No. 7


Stoney Creek Sermonette No. 7
"Christian churches and churches of Christ trace their modern origins to the early 19th-century American frontier, a period of militancy among denominations. America’s pioneers brought their deeply rooted religious convictions to the new land and perpetuated their old animosities. Presbyterian squared off against Anglican who defended himself against Baptist who had no toleration for Lutheran. A reaction to this mutual animosity was inevitable."  LeRoy Lawson © Christian Standard, December 1, 2002.  

The Christian Church/Churches of Christ were given birth from disunity while saying they wanted unity.  They fought among themselves and ended up in more than three distinct groupings.  Today there seems to be even more division in what became known as the restoration movement.    

It still remains the hope of Project Dream Again to bring the need to be embraced and our dreams for community to the attention of these churches as well as other faith communities.  I have made a promise to make a special effort this year to reach more of the churches from the restoration movement.  

I grew up in this church and as a teen lived on one of their biggest mission stations in Zimbabwe.  Maskoko Mission and its hospital at one time had the attention of a large portion of our brotherhood.  What has never had the attention of our churches are those of us with a psychiatric label.  Honestly, I have never really felt welcome in any church once I revealed my psychiatric label.    

Christian Churches Disability Ministry and Dr. Jim Pierson has done wonderful work, but people with a psychiatric diagnosis have not been included in this ministry to my knowledge.  That is not a reflection on the ministry, but I am simply pointing out that they serve a different population of folks in case you thought they were serving us.
  
There are denominations like the Presbyterian Church (USA) that have done a lot on the national and local level.  They have even produced some great materials, but when I was moving to a small town close to Morganton, NC a few years ago I contacted the minister at the PCUSA church in Morganton and he had never heard of any of their materials or the resolutions that had been passed.   I would be remiss not to mention the Mennonites who worked in mental hospitals during World War II and still have a major outreach to us.  There are many other denominations and individual churches doing great work, but the majority of us have no faith community to call home.  

It is time the church I grew up in and other faith communities started embracing folks like me and becoming the leader in how to help us to feel welcome and to feel like we have a place to belong.  They need to make sure we have a safe sanctuary in their sanctuary on a pew beside them.

© Ed Cooper, 6/18/2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee     
    All rights reserved

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