I caught myself recently in a “grass is greener on the other side” moment, looking at the website of a local church. They have the worship band, they have a coffee bar, they have small groups, they have it all — except for anything on their website that affirms that they would be open to someone like me worshipping with them. Thankfully, I have found a church home, a home that I looked for, for a very long time. In the months after my twin daughters were born, I had a nagging, aching feeling that I had to go to church. It wasn’t guilt or an attempt to be a “good mom;” it was a pure and intense need that I tried desperately to ignore. I live in Gwinnett County — I am not hurting for lack of churches. The problem was, I was terrified to walk into a church, with my then-wife and daughters, and face the fact that we would not look like many of those families. And there was a dark, looming possibility that we would not have been welcome.
I stayed up late in the night searching websites for an affirmation that my family would be welcome inside those sanctuary walls. Phrases such as “all are welcome” felt like a trick and I was never quite sure if it actually meant “all of those, whom we approve, are welcome.”
Thankfully there are churches all around Atlanta who truly welcome all. Many of these churches will be walking in this year’s parade. Attempting to remind those, who may have been pushed out in the past, that God’s grace does not care who you love, as long as you live in love.
Church, especially many Christian churches, open wounds for members of our community. The Bible has long been used as a weapon against many of us. Its words twisted and filled with hatred. For those of you who have left the church, I deeply encourage you to check out one of the many Atlanta area churches that will welcome you, just as you are, with open arms.
For those who are wary of traditional church:
• Atlanta Friends Meeting
• Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta
• Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta
Welcoming “traditional” churches:
• Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
• Central Presbyterian Church
• Kirkwood United Church of Christ.
• North Decatur Presbyterian Church
• Oakhurst Baptist Church
• Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
• Park Avenue Baptist Church
• Virginia Highland United Church of Christ
• Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church
• Saint Mark UMC
• St. Matthews Episcopal Church
• Neighborhood Church
• The Gathering Place Worship Center
• Congregation Bet Haverim
• Congregation Or Hadash
• The Temple in Midtown
• Temple Sinai