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Ordinary Shoes

Finding a More Liberal Church

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I was raised Roman Catholic and converted to Eastern Orthodoxy about 14 years ago. 

I think I'm about to the end of the road with Orthodoxy. 

I love Pope Francis. 

Even though I am basically a Catholic at heart, I don't think I can do Catholicism again. At least not at any of the parishes within a reasonable drive from us. They are huge. Very white, middle class, politically conservative; not the "here comes everybody" of James Joyce. 

Also, my daughter, while only 9, is starting to have a lot of opinions. She will tell you that she's dedicated to justice. She has a good eye for unfairness and is still young enough to think it should be addressed. She was very upset this weekend. As Orthodox Christians, we attend a church that does not allow women to have liturgical leadership roles in church. My daughter has never questioned this but I anticipate that happening soon and I don't think I'll have a good answer for why women can't be priests. 

Several people have recommended the Episcopal church. The thought of it makes me feel guilty and worry about hell. Like I wrote above - basically a Catholic at heart. I really don't know anything about any other more liberal churches. 

I'll admit that as a lifelong Catholic then Orthodox, I was taught a kind of contempt for the Episcopals. The religious circles that I've been in for years basically see the Episcopals as fake Christians. 

Have any of you been down a similar road? Did you find comfort in a more diverse and welcoming church? 

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I have previously attended a Church of Christ (technically a Congregational Church of Christ).  There were several people there who were previously Catholic.

Its worth a try I think.

I am attending a Methodist Church now and the liberal issue is not important to me anymore (it’s a little important but it’s not the main thing I look for at all — I want nice people and to feel like I am connecting with scripture, I think). 

I was raised Baptist and was specifically told to feel contempt for Church of Christ.

But after attending once it was clear — they were just doing their thing, having church services, being the Church, doing what they were called to do, etc.

I think give it a try!  It’s easy to wonder about a church you have never attended, but probably it’s just a normal/regular church to the people attending there 🙂

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I have also attended a lot of “multi-denominational” “Protestant” church services at military chapels, and I think, if you go awhile; you adjust to some outward trappings.  And then maybe you do see what is important to you, as far as the kind of service, the music, the doctrine, etc.  

But it’s okay for there to be some things different, not everything is make-or-break.

And especially — the joke about how only one church or denomination is in heaven, but they have a high wall up around them so they don’t know that other churches or denominations are also in heaven — it’s one of those jokes that’s a little too cutting but there is some truth to it, I guess.  

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Honestly for me it was really hard to think about, and once I went I thought “what was the big deal,” it was much less different than I had thought it would be.  

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Well both my husband and I were raised Catholic.  But joined a UU church.  And that's not considered Christian even by themselves generally.  The churches are very individual and democratic though so individual churches can vary widely by feel.  Anyway since Episcopal  sounds radical to you, I won't elaborate too much.  This is the 7 principles but other than that there are all sorts of UU with all sorts of backgrounds following all sorts of faith traditions.  

http://www.uuoxford.com/the-7-principles.html

Do have have a UCC near you?  That seems like it might fit the bill.  When we switched, it felt really crazy like falling off a cliff.  But try some services and some community building stuff.   I tend to think finding a community is more about connecting with a group too.  They're generally just nice normal people looking for community and wisdom and how to live their best lives.  I also think there may be a few overly zealous members at any church that has significant numbers.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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25 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I'll admit that as a lifelong Catholic then Orthodox, I was taught a kind of contempt for the Episcopals. The religious circles that I've been in for years basically see the Episcopals as fake Christians. 

That’s interesting. Episcopal is what came to mind for me as well (though I am not Episcopalian myself). Do you think you can articulate to yourself any reasons Episcopals would be fake Christians? If you think through what makes someone Christian, do you see anywhere the Episcopal church doesn’t meet that standard? Perhaps that exercise would help you see if you can let go of the contempt you were raised with and find belonging in an Episcopal church, or not. 

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I was raised Catholic, but had more and more issues with the church as I got older. Once I got engaged , I knew I could not agree to raise children Catholic, so that was the end of the line for me. My husband and I attended Methodist churches for many years and we’re generally happy with it. It gave us lots of opportunities for volunteer work which was very important to me. Here in the PNW, the United Church of Christ seems similar. I live in a pretty liberal, upper middle class neighborhood, and quite a few of my neighbors attend the Episcopal Church. My only idea about it growing up was that it was more for wealthy people, but I’m sure that’s not true. Since I wasn’t raised with the idea that Catholicism was the only way to God (I never even heard that idea until I went to college and met lots of evangelicals), switching wasn’t really all that difficult. I still miss the folk music of my Catholic youth at times, and never really adjusted to the more staid hymns of the Methodist church, even though the one we attended had a great music program.

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I grew up w/ a Catholic mom and atheist dad. I've found a nice home for myself at a UCC church. Very inclusive, our church does a lot of outreach to the poor and homeless communities in our area and that's important to me. 

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Half my ancestors were Catholic.  I was raised ELCA Lutheran like the other half.

Dh was raised in a very legalistic denomination that hated Lutherans and Catholics.  I followed him around to various churches as he left the teaching of his youth behind.

When we finally landed in a "Catholic style" (I don't know how to phrase this) Episcopal church it was such a *huge* relief to me!!  From what I've heard some Episcopal churches have services that resemble the Catholic church and some don't.

My biggest relief was being in a church that isn't based on being "against" some other church.

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Oops the Church of Christ I attended was really a United Church of Christ (UCC).  That is what I meant.  It’s just a church conference, it’s not as top-down administratively as you might be used to.  But it is generally a more liberal denomination.  It will just depend on the church and the people.  But I can say — ours had a very, very active homeless ministry, it was a good church.  There’s a reason there are different churches though, you are very free to visit and just see what things are like.  

Edit:  a lot of churches can join the UCC conference and my understanding is that the church I attended had a similar service to a Catholic Church in many ways.  I’m not too sure but it’s my impression, and a lot of different kinds of churches can join the UCC conference is my understanding.  

Edit again — we moved or I would still be a member there.  In our new location I like the Methodist church a lot.  But we are in a totally different part of the country etc etc.  

Edited by Lecka
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Man, I feel you.

I was a bit different in that I was raised nominally Episcopal, but then converted to Catholicism, although also considered Orthodox. I can be Catholic, and still have differences of opinion on some topics. But I realized that as a spiritually mature adult that is fine, but my children are not in that same place. And they deserve to be where I feel they will be nurtured in the beliefs we hold, that are not always the same as the Catholic church. So, we are back in an Episcopal parish at this point. 

I would NEVER consider them fake Christians!!CS Lewis was Anglican - and he was no fake. Seriously, there is a lot of depth there if you want it, but also an openness. You can still hold to pretty much all your Orthodox beliefs, and be welcome. And the Episcopal church has Apostolic succession, like the Roman Catholic and Orthodox church (they even doubled down at one point, with Old Catholic Bishops re-ordaining use to be sure). The argument made that their eucharist isn't valid (made by the Catholic church) is pretty shaky, if you investigate it....I have no trouble accepting it as equally valid to the eucharist at a  Catholic or Orthodox parish. Your opinion may differ but I'd research it first. 

Now, are there Episcopalians who are on the fringes and have weird theological beliefs? Yes. But there are a lot of very devout Episcopalians whose beliefs would mirror your own. And the service is beautiful, truly a sacred experience for me. 

And yes, having my daughter see women who are priests became important to me. 

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Perhaps I would focus less on denomination and more on observing which churches in your area are actively engaged in serving the community's most needy. Perhaps it is going to be mainline Protestant, evangelical, or Anglican...I just would look to see what they are doing in tangible, meaningful ways to be the hands and feet of Christ to the most needy.

The church I am a part of is evangelical but not the Bible thumping media caricature of it. We do an annual serve day for a less advantaged community near us and ask how we can serve. Sometimes it was going in and doing a complete paint, landscaping and refresh of the local continution high school or it was cleaning, weeding, painting and landscaping the City's main community park. We have established safe homes for women escaping sexual trafficking to heal, gain skills and eventually to find jobs and their own homes. We work to support our city (major metro) in providing safe families for temporary emergencies to try to keep children out of our stressed and overburdened foster care system and work every year to help foster kids aging out to furnish their first apartments. We do many more things than this, but I would encourage you to look because I know there are churches who are also doing similar work and would love to have like-minded people to come alongside and become part of their communities.

 

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16 minutes ago, happi duck said:

Half my ancestors were Catholic.  I was raised ELCA Lutheran like the other half.

Dh was raised in a very legalistic denomination that hated Lutherans and Catholics.  I followed him around to various churches as he left the teaching of his youth behind.

When we finally landed in a "Catholic style" (I don't know how to phrase this) Episcopal church it was such a *huge* relief to me!!  From what I've heard some Episcopal churches have services that resemble the Catholic church and some don't.

My biggest relief was being in a church that isn't based on being "against" some other church.

Yes and no. The service itself is always the same. Well, one of two options - the Book of Common Prayer has a Rite I service and a Rite II service. Rite I uses Elizabethan language, sounds a bit like shakespeare. Usually that is used for the 8am service with the old people, lol. Rite II is the one without the "thees" and "thous" and most commonly used. So, Rite I would say "and with thy spirit" and Rite II would say "and with your spirit". Also, Rite I has only one format for everything, and Rite II has a few options, I think 4, for the prayers before communion, etc. But all Episcopal churches will use the Book of Common prayer for the service, which looks VERY similar to a Catholic service with a very few minor differences. Like, the peace is in a different spot, and there is a special prayer we all say after communion, that kind of thing. 

Where things will differ is if there is more chanting, incense, "smells and bells" used. Some parishes will have a spot to light a candle like a Catholic parish, some won't, etc. Some may have more elaborate garments for the priest. That kind of thing. Oh, and some will refer to the service as the Mass, but most won't. 

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Of the two Episcopal churches I've attended they both used the prayerbook (neither used thees or thous) but everything else was very different.  When I've mentioned that I've been told that some Episcopal churches resemble the Catholic church and some don't.

My point was that if you try one Episcopal Church you haven't tried them all.

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I know this isn't what you asked, but have you considered going to the priest w/your daughter and discussing why women aren't in that role in your church? 

If you're not looking for that kind of study, I think Episcopal, UCC, or PCUSA all ordain women.

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I have had a real mix of things being the exact thing from my previous UCC church, to my current Methodist church, being exactly the same or totally different.  And the same from Baptist churches (whether Independent or Southern) or multi-denominational (at Army bases — often there are services for Catholic, traditional Protestant, Protestant with different music, and then Protestant with black or Latino — believe it or not, that is often how the services are divided up — the black or Latino services may be called the Gospel service, or on the other hand maybe the Latinos are assumed  to be more attending the Catholic services — anyway I have often attended either of the two default-ish white Protestant services — but that is not really how it is, either).  

I do really believe that more things are the same than are different.  It’s a deep belief I have.  

But its important to find a church where you can really fit in, grow as a Christian, and really agree with almost everything and not have excessive asterisks.

And then at a certain point I think there are people who will do best to attend a Unitarian Univeralist Church.  I don’t think that is me, but I benefited so much from attending a church where I just had few to none asterisks, and it all seems to matter less to me now, if I know I agree on all the big picture things and think there are really people who are doing good things and with a good intention.  Some details just do not matter as much to me know compared to 10 years ago.

But I do think it is so worthwhile, to be able to be somewhere you can be authentic and/or explore questions/issues, wherever that is.

I really do think it so so worthwhile, when the option is to do something that doesn’t fit and is possibly feeling a bit fake or contrived, or just nothing (which I think is so, so sad, personally), or finding a place where people have some questions or issues, but are making many attempts to live in a good way, and a scriptural way, even with some questions or doubts.  That’s just how I feel.  For several years I wasn’t comfortable with anything with definitive answers — and now I honestly am.  But I think the Christian community was so good even without definitive answers, at my previous church.  It’s not that nobody felt they had definitive answers, but some did not in the moment.

It’s hard to explain but I think it’s definitely worth trying different things, and I strongly identify with certain things being previously identified as heretical (or whatever) but in fact those people are really just regular people doing the best they could, with some minor doctrinal differences.  And I think the doctrinal differences in the scheme of things have been so minor, I am just not someone to get overly hung up on doctrine when it often seems to be just different ways of saying the same thing, or just not very foundational, to me.  

But you can always go back if you find you will  really agree with your previous church, it is really fine, I think. I really think it’s okay to have a process and find things out over time.  

Edited by Lecka
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30 minutes ago, EmseB said:

I know this isn't what you asked, but have you considered going to the priest w/your daughter and discussing why women aren't in that role in your church? 

If you're not looking for that kind of study, I think Episcopal, UCC, or PCUSA all ordain women.

My daughter hasn't asked any questions about women priests yet. I just know that it's coming soon. 

I know the official answer about why there are not women priests. I just don't find the official answer all that convincing anymore. 

I think what I am beginning to realize is that what I was taught as TRUTH has always been subject to culture. Like with the official answer about a male only clergy. Jesus was a man but the culture that the Church grew out of was patriarchal. Which one is the true reason for the rule? I know that in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, there are whole lists of proof-texts answering that question that they find very convincing. 

The standard answer today is that men and women are equal but not the same. Only men can be priests and bishops. If men and women are equal and only men can be priests, why isn't there an equal female role in the Church? 

Of course I'm coming at this with the assumption that mothers and fathers are equal in every way, including authority. I explicitly reject the idea of male headship. I don't believe that God has set up my husband as my and my daughter's leader and that we should submit to him. 

I know those who accept the Church's position on this issue will dismiss what I'm saying here as illogical, stupid, and silly. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

Man, I feel you.

I was a bit different in that I was raised nominally Episcopal, but then converted to Catholicism, although also considered Orthodox. I can be Catholic, and still have differences of opinion on some topics. But I realized that as a spiritually mature adult that is fine, but my children are not in that same place. And they deserve to be where I feel they will be nurtured in the beliefs we hold, that are not always the same as the Catholic church. So, we are back in an Episcopal parish at this point. 

I would NEVER consider them fake Christians!!CS Lewis was Anglican - and he was no fake. Seriously, there is a lot of depth there if you want it, but also an openness. You can still hold to pretty much all your Orthodox beliefs, and be welcome. And the Episcopal church has Apostolic succession, like the Roman Catholic and Orthodox church (they even doubled down at one point, with Old Catholic Bishops re-ordaining use to be sure). The argument made that their eucharist isn't valid (made by the Catholic church) is pretty shaky, if you investigate it....I have no trouble accepting it as equally valid to the eucharist at a  Catholic or Orthodox parish. Your opinion may differ but I'd research it first. 

Now, are there Episcopalians who are on the fringes and have weird theological beliefs? Yes. But there are a lot of very devout Episcopalians whose beliefs would mirror your own. And the service is beautiful, truly a sacred experience for me. 

And yes, having my daughter see women who are priests became important to me. 

Thanks. I'll admit that I've never seriously considered whether it's possible that the Episcopals have Apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist. I'll have to do some research on that one. 

 

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Episcopal would definitely be my first suggestion, too, for someone who feels most comfortable with Catholicism but has irreconcilable differences with it. Some Episcopal congregations tend more toward high church services than others, so, as others have mentioned, it's worth trying out more than one (they'll also differ a great deal as far as political/social leanings of the congregation, IME). I was raised Catholic and then Baptist and needed something far more inclusive (in all kinds of ways) than either for my own family; we've had good experiences at various stages with UCC, Disciples of Christ, and now Episcopal churches. I don't have a ton of theological dealbreakers, though (open communion's my big one).  Reading about various denominations and asking for other people's experiences is all good, but you probably need to just spend some time trying out different churches until you find one that feels right to you. I know that can be tough with kids, because you just want to get them established in a community....but we've been in situations before where we thought somewhere would be "good enough" and then gradually grew more and more uncomfortable with things--it's harder to leave after 6 months than two weeks!

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If you want to hear a lot about Naomi, Ruth, Esther,  and Mary Magdalene (just for example), it's definitely possible to go to a church and here a lot more about them, and view them more strongly for their role in the Gospel or God's Word.  

You can definitely hear sermon's about how it is significant that "Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome" were the first to go to visit Jesus's tomb, the first to realize he was not in the tomb, etc...….Are they the first people Jesus appeared to?  

I don't know how meaningful you would find this, it was very meaningful to me after being in churches where this kind of thing was just elided or not mentioned I guess.  

I think there's just a lot to it.  

 (Edited)

 

 

Edited by Lecka
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I was raised Episcopalian, and love a lot of things about the Episcopal church, particularly the openness to other ideas, and the liturgy.  I have had the opportunity to attend a variety of churches, and find that for me to feel centered, and feel the presence of God, and put away distractions and be in the moment, I need the structure of a liturgical service.  I find it very comforting to know exactly what comes next, and to have beautiful familiar words to guide me.  So, in many ways Episcopalianism was a good fit, but I never felt like it was the only way.

Then, I fell in love with a Catholic man.  My husband grew up with religion occupying a much bigger place in his life than I did, and it was really important to him that he stay Catholic, and that his kids be Catholic, so we agreed that we'd raise the kids Catholic, and after some time I decided to convert too.  I don't agree with the church on everything.  But there's a lot that I like, like the strong communities, and the commitment to social justice.  Our particular parish, isn't like what the OP described, but there are lots around that are.  We looked pretty hard to find a church that fit us, and then bought a house close by intentionally.  

By most measures, we live pretty Catholic lives. We go to church every Sunday.  2 of my 3 kids go to Catholic school.  They do things like sing in the choir, and play CYO sports, and participate in the scouting troops at our church.  They have made all their age appropriate sacraments, and I assume they'll make the rest.  And because their lives are centered on the church, and I have been at home most of their childhoods, many of my friends come from the same community.  I really like that.  We've got some challenges going on right now with severe health issues with one kid, and the community has kind of wrapped itself around us in this amazing way.  Being part of a tightly knit community has turned out to be exactly what we need right now.   In my experience, I don't think the Episcopal churches of my childhood would offer the same thing.  

But that doesn't mean that I agree with the church on everything.  My kids know my feelings about the ordination of women.  They know that I feel strongly about marriage equality.  The Episcopal church is actually much closer to what I believe about many issues.  I just advocate for those things from within rather than without. 

I have no idea why I wrote this, as it probably contains no useful advice!

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40 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

I was raised Episcopalian, and love a lot of things about the Episcopal church, particularly the openness to other ideas, and the liturgy.  I have had the opportunity to attend a variety of churches, and find that for me to feel centered, and feel the presence of God, and put away distractions and be in the moment, I need the structure of a liturgical service.  I find it very comforting to know exactly what comes next, and to have beautiful familiar words to guide me.  So, in many ways Episcopalianism was a good fit, but I never felt like it was the only way.

Then, I fell in love with a Catholic man.  My husband grew up with religion occupying a much bigger place in his life than I did, and it was really important to him that he stay Catholic, and that his kids be Catholic, so we agreed that we'd raise the kids Catholic, and after some time I decided to convert too.  I don't agree with the church on everything.  But there's a lot that I like, like the strong communities, and the commitment to social justice.  Our particular parish, isn't like what the OP described, but there are lots around that are.  We looked pretty hard to find a church that fit us, and then bought a house close by intentionally.  

By most measures, we live pretty Catholic lives. We go to church every Sunday.  2 of my 3 kids go to Catholic school.  They do things like sing in the choir, and play CYO sports, and participate in the scouting troops at our church.  They have made all their age appropriate sacraments, and I assume they'll make the rest.  And because their lives are centered on the church, and I have been at home most of their childhoods, many of my friends come from the same community.  I really like that.  We've got some challenges going on right now with severe health issues with one kid, and the community has kind of wrapped itself around us in this amazing way.  Being part of a tightly knit community has turned out to be exactly what we need right now.   In my experience, I don't think the Episcopal churches of my childhood would offer the same thing.  

But that doesn't mean that I agree with the church on everything.  My kids know my feelings about the ordination of women.  They know that I feel strongly about marriage equality.  The Episcopal church is actually much closer to what I believe about many issues.  I just advocate for those things from within rather than without. 

I have no idea why I wrote this, as it probably contains no useful advice!

That's pretty much where I was, advocating from within rather than without. I may return to that, at some point. But in contrast, my husband is not very religious, and will NEVER convert to Catholicism, and was raised Episcopal, so with that, plus the other stuff, plus some issues with the way they started doing faith formation classes, plus some personal anger at some structural issues that were keeping me from attending at all, we are where we are. 

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I do agree that different Episcopal parishes have a different feel. Some are very elite, very upper class, very preppy. Others are more social justice focused, etc. So if you try one and don't enjoy it, try another for sure!

And some have icons!

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Just now, Ktgrok said:

That's pretty much where I was, advocating from within rather than without. I may return to that, at some point. But in contrast, my husband is not very religious, and will NEVER convert to Catholicism, and was raised Episcopal, so with that, plus the other stuff, plus some issues with the way they started doing faith formation classes, plus some personal anger at some structural issues that were keeping me from attending at all, we are where we are. 

 

I could absolutely see that happening to me, well hopefully I won't get a new husband, but other than that I can see the rest of it happening. 

I think I could be a very happy Episcopalian again, but right now the community piece of Catholicism works for us.  

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Thanks. I'll admit that I've never seriously considered whether it's possible that the Episcopals have Apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist. I'll have to do some research on that one. 

 

Please do research, rather than just believe me, lol, but the long story short is that there came a time when there may have been a bishop who was consecrated without the required 3 bishops, sort of maybe, and also there was a time period for approximately 100 years when the ordination service used had a slightly different wording and according to the Catholic Church that made anyone ordained using that wording not validly ordained. So the Anglican church (umbrella including what is now the Episcopal church) changed the wording back, and in the 1930s started having bishops from the Old Catholic Church (whose orders are considered valid by the Roman Catholic Church) participate in the ordination of Anglican bishops. Because most were dutch speaking (I think) it became called "the Dutch touch", referring to the laying on of hands. So that fixed any problems in that regard and at this point all or virtually all Anglican/Episcopal bishops/priests trace their lineage to one of those ordinations that included the Old Catholic Bishops. So, now the reasoning given by the Catholic church to explain why Anglican orders are not valid is that part of what makes an ordination valid is the intent, and the intent of Anglicans is different from the intent of Catholics in a way that makes the ordination invalid. Much of that has to do with beliefs about the sacrificial nature of the Mass, and arguments a lot of men who are now dead had about that. Much focus on if it is an eternal sacrifice, a one time sacrifice, if it is being repeated during the mass in an actual way or if it was a once and for all sacrifice...it gets pretty deep in the weeds. 

Also, the Anglican church does not hold to transubstantiation in the way it was meant at the time, but of course, in fact, neither does the Orthodox church. The Anglican view would be more similar to the Orthodox in that it is a mystery, God is present, we don't know how, and that's okay and not the point anyway. The post communion prayer kind of sums up the Anglican view of it:

Almighty and everliving God,
we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food 
of the most precious Body and Blood
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
that we are living members of the Body of your Son, 
and heirs of your eternal kingdom.
And now, Father, send us out
to do the work you have given us to do,
to love and serve you
as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

 

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3 hours ago, Lecka said:

Oops the Church of Christ I attended was really a United Church of Christ (UCC).  That is what I meant.  It’s just a church conference, it’s not as top-down administratively as you might be used to.  But it is generally a more liberal denomination.  It will just depend on the church and the people.  But I can say — ours had a very, very active homeless ministry, it was a good church.  There’s a reason there are different churches though, you are very free to visit and just see what things are like.  

Edit:  a lot of churches can join the UCC conference and my understanding is that the church I attended had a similar service to a Catholic Church in many ways.  I’m not too sure but it’s my impression, and a lot of different kinds of churches can join the UCC conference is my understanding.  

Edit again — we moved or I would still be a member there.  In our new location I like the Methodist church a lot.  But we are in a totally different part of the country etc etc.  

I was gonna say... don't confuse the Church of Christ with the United Church of Christ (UCC)! They're about as far away as you can get on the conservative/liberal spectrum  (with the UCC being on the super-liberal end, almost as far as UU, but with just a bit more Christianity, lol. 

I go to a combined UCC/UU church...

OP, I think you might like the Episcopal church; I think there are similarities in the liturgy you'd like, but of course generally more liberal.

Edited by Matryoshka
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OH and depending on where you stand on marriage equality/LGBT issues, do be aware there are some still parishes/diocese that are more conservative than others. My diocese is one of those, with a Bishop that will not allow gay marriage, BUT what that means is that the parishes in the diocese CAN choose to perform them, under the auspices of a different bishop from another area. So in other words, can vary from parish to parish. The one I am at is very progressive on social justice, but not sure about other issues as they have not come up. We do have visiting female priests. Another parish is known as the "The progressive/liberal" parish and has a woman priest and the parish marches in the annual Pride parade, and there are others that have mostly very conservative, old money parishioners. It just varies. 

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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

My daughter hasn't asked any questions about women priests yet. I just know that it's coming soon. 

I know the official answer about why there are not women priests. I just don't find the official answer all that convincing anymore. 

I think what I am beginning to realize is that what I was taught as TRUTH has always been subject to culture. Like with the official answer about a male only clergy. Jesus was a man but the culture that the Church grew out of was patriarchal. Which one is the true reason for the rule? I know that in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, there are whole lists of proof-texts answering that question that they find very convincing. 

The standard answer today is that men and women are equal but not the same. Only men can be priests and bishops. If men and women are equal and only men can be priests, why isn't there an equal female role in the Church? 

Of course I'm coming at this with the assumption that mothers and fathers are equal in every way, including authority. I explicitly reject the idea of male headship. I don't believe that God has set up my husband as my and my daughter's leader and that we should submit to him. 

I know those who accept the Church's position on this issue will dismiss what I'm saying here as illogical, stupid, and silly. 

 

 

As an Orthodox christian I would never say that.    ☹️

To your other question about finding another church.   Do you want liturgy or not?

If you want a liturgical church I would recommend looking at the ELCA (LCMS is great except they would not agree with you on the issue of women pastors either).   Some ELCA are more contemporary worship styled and others are liturgical - probably similar to the way Episcopalians are too.  

I think it's hard to figure out some of these theological ideas just by looking online.  I would go to a few services and speak with the pastor of any church before deciding.

I would also speak with your current priest about your concern about the Orthodox Church.   I'm sorry that you're struggling in the church and I hope you find a spiritual place to call home.

 

Edited by PrincessMommy
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Oh! As to the whole feeling guilty thing...when this came to a head for me i was still attending the mom's group at the Catholic parish. One meeting they did confession, with several priests coming in. I spoke with one about all that I was going through, and he was so sympathetic! He said it was much better for my family to be attending, and worshipping, than for me to stay home or be feeling hurt. Another priest has said, not to me personally, but in general, that all the best Catholics left the church for at least a decade. 

So I don't think even a priest would condemn you. Not if you are truly trying to continue to serve God. 

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5 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

 

Several people have recommended the Episcopal church. The thought of it makes me feel guilty and worry about hell. Like I wrote above - basically a Catholic at heart. I really don't know anything about any other more liberal churches. 

I'll admit that as a lifelong Catholic then Orthodox, I was taught a kind of contempt for the Episcopals. The religious circles that I've been in for years basically see the Episcopals as fake Christians. 

Have any of you been down a similar road? Did you find comfort in a more diverse and welcoming church? 

 

I understand how you feel about the above but coming at it from the other side.  I was raised in a loud holy roller church.  We were taught that anyone who wasn’t in a loud holy roller church (especially if it was Catholic) was spiritually dead and if we were to go to dead churches, woe to us—God would be mad.  It’s hard to shake those lessons from when you were young.  

What made me rethink those lessons I was taught was “listening” to boardies here talk about their faith: particularly the ones in quiet, traditional churches (and not holy roller ones.)  Ktgrok and PrincessMommy have rich, deep faith that made me see how wrong what I’d been taught was.

(And I didn’t know C.S. Lewis was Anglican.  All those holy roller types who love his writing probably don’t know that!)

I’ve recently started attending a church that is quieter than I’m used to.  And I had feelings of guilt and fear to overcome about it.  Would God be mad at me for going to a place where people weren’t yelling out, “Amen!” every few minutes?  I understand getting that niggling of worry that you’re doing something wrong if you change your church.  But I’ve come to realize that God is in many more churches than I was led to believe!  Many more!

 

2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

My daughter hasn't asked any questions about women priests yet. I just know that it's coming soon. 

I know the official answer about why there are not women priests. I just don't find the official answer all that convincing anymore. 

I think what I am beginning to realize is that what I was taught as TRUTH has always been subject to culture. Like with the official answer about a male only clergy. Jesus was a man but the culture that the Church grew out of was patriarchal. Which one is the true reason for the rule? I know that in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, there are whole lists of proof-texts answering that question that they find very convincing. 

The standard answer today is that men and women are equal but not the same. Only men can be priests and bishops. If men and women are equal and only men can be priests, why isn't there an equal female role in the Church? 

Of course I'm coming at this with the assumption that mothers and fathers are equal in every way, including authority. I explicitly reject the idea of male headship. I don't believe that God has set up my husband as my and my daughter's leader and that we should submit to him. 

I know those who accept the Church's position on this issue will dismiss what I'm saying here as illogical, stupid, and silly. 

 

 

 

I’ve always been uneasy with what the church says about women and was quiet about it because I didn’t want to rock the boat.  But recently, I’ve come to the exact same conclusions you have and I’m not being quiet about it any more.  Here’s something I read recently that underscored what I’d always suspected:. https://margmowczko.com/a-suitable-helper/

I’m realizing that a lot of the scriptures regarding women and their place, have to do with very specific circumstances and aren’t intended for all women and all men for all time.  I think a lot of the doctrine about women submitting and men leading is in error.  

1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

I do agree that different Episcopal parishes have a different feel. Some are very elite, very upper class, very preppy. Others are more social justice focused, etc. So if you try one and don't enjoy it, try another for sure!

And some have icons!

 

This is a good point.  In many denominations there can be big differences between specific churches.

Edited by Garga
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It's kind of ironic because I've heard it said that men become feminists when they have a daughter. After they have a daughter, all of the sudden the idea that women are inferior or weak doesn't make sense to them anymore. 

I think watching my daughter grow up is influencing me here. I did not grow up in a patriarchal family. My parents have a very egalitarian marriage. I've never seriously believed in female submission even though I've belonged to churches that have taught it. My husband does not believe it either.  

Our home is very egalitarian. We are not authoritative parents. We don't spank. As my daughter gets older, I don't want to have to teach her about limits due to her gender. I don't want her to submit to her husband. 

Our church is not super conservative. Wifely submission is not spoken of often but it's there lurking underneath and I know it. A few years ago, a popular and somewhat controversial priest was invited by the parish to give a talk on marriage. He's a confirmed believer in wifely submission and spanking. My husband and I did not attend the retreat. 

This stuff is there, under the service. People will wave it away; it doesn't affect your everyday life, right? But it's poisoned the well and I don't want my daughter being around it. 

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25 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

It's kind of ironic because I've heard it said that men become feminists when they have a daughter. After they have a daughter, all of the sudden the idea that women are inferior or weak doesn't make sense to them anymore. 

I think watching my daughter grow up is influencing me here. I did not grow up in a patriarchal family. My parents have a very egalitarian marriage. I've never seriously believed in female submission even though I've belonged to churches that have taught it. My husband does not believe it either.  

Our home is very egalitarian. We are not authoritative parents. We don't spank. As my daughter gets older, I don't want to have to teach her about limits due to her gender. I don't want her to submit to her husband. 

Our church is not super conservative. Wifely submission is not spoken of often but it's there lurking underneath and I know it. A few years ago, a popular and somewhat controversial priest was invited by the parish to give a talk on marriage. He's a confirmed believer in wifely submission and spanking. My husband and I did not attend the retreat. 

This stuff is there, under the service. People will wave it away; it doesn't affect your everyday life, right? But it's poisoned the well and I don't want my daughter being around it. 

I completely get this. I think part of it is that for me, I find myself strong enough to stand firm in my beliefs when faced with things I disagree with. But how can I expect that of my kids, who are still learning and growing? different stages in life. 

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59 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

It's kind of ironic because I've heard it said that men become feminists when they have a daughter. After they have a daughter, all of the sudden the idea that women are inferior or weak doesn't make sense to them anymore. 

I think watching my daughter grow up is influencing me here. I did not grow up in a patriarchal family. My parents have a very egalitarian marriage. I've never seriously believed in female submission even though I've belonged to churches that have taught it. My husband does not believe it either.  

Our home is very egalitarian. We are not authoritative parents. We don't spank. As my daughter gets older, I don't want to have to teach her about limits due to her gender. I don't want her to submit to her husband. 

Our church is not super conservative. Wifely submission is not spoken of often but it's there lurking underneath and I know it. A few years ago, a popular and somewhat controversial priest was invited by the parish to give a talk on marriage. He's a confirmed believer in wifely submission and spanking. My husband and I did not attend the retreat. 

This stuff is there, under the service. People will wave it away; it doesn't affect your everyday life, right? But it's poisoned the well and I don't want my daughter being around it. 

This is pretty much my story.  My family is the same as yours, and in so many churches the wifely submission thing might never or very, very rarely be mentioned...but it’s there.  And I’m just sick and tired of being looked down on for no good reason.  Now, if I believed God really did think I needed a leader and honestly made me that way...fine.  

But I don’t believe that at all.  

And it rankles being around people who do believe it, when I believe they’re actually wrong.  When the pastor of the church we’re attending now mentioned the stuff I linked a couple of posts above—about how our thoughts on women have been taught wrong and that women are a helper, in the same way a hero is a helper, or God himself is a helper, I just about wept.  What a relief!  I hadn’t realized how much tension I had about the issue until that moment.  

Edited by Garga
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2 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

I like that. I mean, the Holy Spirit was sent to help as well. 

Right.  I’d been taught that women were a “helpmeet” and it always came across to me like the man would have Important Things To Do and the woman could (metaphorically) run and grab him his screwdriver for him to “help.”  Isn’t she cute?

So, hearing that the word in Genesis for helper is the same one God uses for himself as a helper, and learning that it’s used in the same way that a hero coming into the battle to turn the tide in a war is used...well, what a cool drink of water on a hot day that was.

Edited by Garga
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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

It's kind of ironic because I've heard it said that men become feminists when they have a daughter. After they have a daughter, all of the sudden the idea that women are inferior or weak doesn't make sense to them anymore. 

I think watching my daughter grow up is influencing me here. I did not grow up in a patriarchal family. My parents have a very egalitarian marriage. I've never seriously believed in female submission even though I've belonged to churches that have taught it. My husband does not believe it either.  

Our home is very egalitarian. We are not authoritative parents. We don't spank. As my daughter gets older, I don't want to have to teach her about limits due to her gender. I don't want her to submit to her husband. 

Our church is not super conservative. Wifely submission is not spoken of often but it's there lurking underneath and I know it. A few years ago, a popular and somewhat controversial priest was invited by the parish to give a talk on marriage. He's a confirmed believer in wifely submission and spanking. My husband and I did not attend the retreat. 

This stuff is there, under the service. People will wave it away; it doesn't affect your everyday life, right? But it's poisoned the well and I don't want my daughter being around it. 

This was the main reason I did not get married in the Catholic Church. I could not agree to raise children in a patriarchal faith. A friend recently shared his conversion to and deconversion from the Mormon faith. Although he had been questioning things for a long time, it all came to a head when his elementary aged daughter questioned why she didn’t get to do all of the stuff her brother did in the church. His wife was descended from the original Mormon settlers, but she also left the faith.

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I’m Episcopalian, my husband is Catholic.  We are raising our daughters Catholic because 1) my husband’s preference and 2) Catholic schools, sports, community...  The Catholic Church is just much more active and vibrant in our neighborhood than the Episcopal Church.

Female priests?  We address it head on.  Our daughters know we disagree with the Catholic Church on this issue, we talk about our female friend who is an ordained Lutheran minister, we tell them they can choose to go to a Church that ordains women when they are grownups...  It helps that our Catholic parish is not very conservative.  They could tell anyone in our parish how we feel without any problems.

Do you have an Episcopal Cathedral near you?  Ours has such amazing music and liturgy.  I think it would be a nice introduction to how seriously Episcopalians can be about their worship experience.

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I'm laughing.  I grew up Episcopalian and that's how I feel about Catholics and Orthodoxies!  

I find comfort in a church that is biblical without being legalistic.  We go to a Presbyterian church.  PCA, not PCUSA.  Big difference.

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Just now, Lawyer&Mom said:

I’m Episcopalian, my husband is Catholic.  We are raising our daughters Catholic because 1) my husband’s preference and 2) Catholic schools, sports, community...  The Catholic Church is just much more active and vibrant in our neighborhood than the Episcopal Church.

Female priests?  We address it head on.  Our daughters know we disagree with the Catholic Church on this issue, we talk about our female friend who is an ordained Lutheran minister, we tell them they can choose to go to a Church that ordains women when they are grownups...  It helps that our Catholic parish is not very conservative.  They could tell anyone in our parish how we feel without any problems.

Do you have an Episcopal Cathedral near you?  Ours has such amazing music and liturgy.  I think it would be a nice introduction to how seriously Episcopalians can be about their worship experience.


Your experience is really similar to mine, especially the part about schools, sports, community.  We have Episcopal schools, but they tend to draw from wide areas and have lots of non-Episcopalian kids.  Not that there's anything wrong with non-Episcopalian kids, but there isn't the same experience my kids have, for better or worse, or playing with the same kids in the neighborhood, and seeing them at church and at school.  Plus the Episcopal schools cost about 4 times as much.  

And yes, I agree 100% that Episcopal churches, and Cathedrals, especially those on the "high church" side, have wonderful music and liturgy. 

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Yes, my husband was Catholic, and I was a Lutheran.  However, my dh was raised a progressive feminist.  We raised our dd's to be strong and independent.  They would never have remained with the faith if they stayed in a traditional church.  We found a non-denominational church that actually feels the closest to Christ's teachings that we've ever experienced.  It has been life-changing for all of us.  It's the one church that everyone in our family (with lots of smarty-pants young adults) feels completely comfortable attending.   If you can find a church similar to this one, I'd recommend it!  They recommend churches of similar views across the nation.

https://whchurch.org

ETA:  I do love the liturgy and music of the traditional protestant churches.  That's one thing I really miss in the more modern non-denominational churches!

Edited by J-rap

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I recently visited a nearby Episcopal church (which has a woman priest), and my impression was Catholicism Under Improved Management. I've also visited a UCC congregation, and it was nice but probably much more of a difference than you're looking for in the service itself... more like UU while still firmly Christian.

It doesn't hurt to visit; and church websites are very revealing (including via the things they don't say). 🙂

If you could't guess, I'm conducting what I call Survivor: Church Edition, and have nearly made up my mind... If I do take the leap I'm considering, I think it will shock some people who know me.

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Can I ask what diocese you’re in? (Antiochian, rocor, goa...)

I’m just curious because wifely submission isn’t a big thing in my parish.  The women outnumber the men on the council and the women run the church while the men run the altar, so to speak. Not the exact same duties but definitely of equal importance.

If I had to find another church, it would have to be one that celebrates all the feasts of the female saints and the dormition/nativity of Mary.  I think I would feel like I was stepping backwards if I didn’t have that.

 

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1 hour ago, WendyAndMilo said:

Can I ask what diocese you’re in? (Antiochian, rocor, goa...)

I’m just curious because wifely submission isn’t a big thing in my parish.  The women outnumber the men on the council and the women run the church while the men run the altar, so to speak. Not the exact same duties but definitely of equal importance.

If I had to find another church, it would have to be one that celebrates all the feasts of the female saints and the dormition/nativity of Mary.  I think I would feel like I was stepping backwards if I didn’t have that.

 

I go to an OCA church. Like I wrote, it's not super conservative. They don't talk too much about male headship either. However, like I wrote above it's definitely there. I wouldn't say it's a big thing either. But I've had other wives tell me about how they had to patient for their husbands to convert because the husband is the head of the household, etc. 

My husband and I were married in the Orthodox Church and the wedding liturgy specifically says women should be submissive to their husband. There is no promise because there are no vows in an Orthodox wedding ceremony but it was said over me. I rolled my eyes big time during that part of my wedding. 

Also, our parish invited Fr. Josiah Trenham to talk about family. 🤮 He's pretty extreme, IMHO. The big debate about him is always whether he actually recommended that a husband could send his wife to bed without her supper. It's from a footnote in his dissertation or thesis. I've seen it and can attest to it being in the footnotes. His apologists say that he just quoting St. John Chrysostom.   In one of his podcasts, he suggested that date rape was due to feminism, or something like that. I can't remember the specifics because I haven't listened to it in awhile. 

There are women on our parish council too and women run certain ministries. Headcovering is about 50/50. So not super conservative. 

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Slightly off-topic, but I am reading Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron. That might be an interesting read as you go along this journey. 

https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Francis-Ian-Morgan-Cron/dp/0310336694

Book summary from Amazon: 

What happens when the pastor of a mega church loses his faith?

Pastor Chase Falson has lost his faith in God, the Bible, evangelical Christianity, and his super-sized megachurch. When he falls apart, the church elders tell him to go away: as far away as possible. Join Chase on his life-changing journey to Italy where, with a curious group of Franciscan friars, he struggles to resolve his crisis of faith by retracing the footsteps of Francis of Assisi, a saint whose simple way of loving Jesus changed the history of the world. Read this riveting story and then begin your own life-changing journey through the pilgrim’s guide included in this powerful novel.

Hidden in the past lies the future of the church

When his elders tell him to take some time away from his church, broken pastor Chase Falson crosses the Atlantic to Italy to visit his uncle, a Franciscan priest. There he is introduced to the revolutionary teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi and finds an old, but new way of following Jesus that heals and inspires. Chase Falson’s spiritual discontent mirrors the feelings of a growing number of Christians who walk out of church asking, Is this all there is? They are weary of celebrity pastors, empty calorie teaching, and worship services wherethe emphasis is more on Lights, Camera, Action than on Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while the deepest questions of life remain unaddressed in a meaningful way.

Bestselling author Ian Morgan Cron masterfully weaves lessons from the life of Saint Francis into the story of Chase Falson to explore the life of a saint who 800 years ago breathed new life into disillusioned Christians and a Church on the brink of collapse. Chasing Francis is a hopeful and moving story with profound implications for those who yearn for a more vital relationship with God and the world.

 

Edited by calbear
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9 hours ago, WendyAndMilo said:

Can I ask what diocese you’re in? (Antiochian, rocor, goa...)

I’m just curious because wifely submission isn’t a big thing in my parish.  The women outnumber the men on the council and the women run the church while the men run the altar, so to speak. Not the exact same duties but definitely of equal importance.

If I had to find another church, it would have to be one that celebrates all the feasts of the female saints and the dormition/nativity of Mary.  I think I would feel like I was stepping backwards if I didn’t have that.

 

Sounds a lot like my parish.   Although politically we're very divided, we still work together pretty well.     My oldest daughter's parish is much more traditional and she's about 30min from me.  I think it really depends on the area you live in too (South, PNW, etc.) 

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Resurrecting (ha!) this one with a follow up question. 

Do Episcopalians dress up on Sunday? Catholics don't dress up at all, at least in my experience. Orthodox Christians are dressier than Catholics but it's basically work casual with more skirts. Men don't wear suits, for example. 

I want to check out the Episcopal church but have no idea what to wear on Sunday. 

I have this weird idea of Episcopalians (or is it Episcopals?) as either like the family in Life With Father (old fashioned, proper, society-ish) or Stuff White People Like-ish. I know neither is based in reality. 

Perhaps other ex or current Catholics can understand this. 'Doxing' (converting to Orthodoxy) was fine. But Protestant? Oh my! It's taking the soup! It feels like a betrayal of something, IDK. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Resurrecting (ha!) this one with a follow up question. 

Do Episcopalians dress up on Sunday? Catholics don't dress up at all, at least in my experience. Orthodox Christians are dressier than Catholics but it's basically work casual with more skirts. Men don't wear suits, for example. 

I would say that at the congregations I've been to,  they dress up a little.  Business casual, or something a little more fun than that like a sundress.  Maybe a collared shirt a khakis on a man, rather than jeans or a suit. 

6 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I want to check out the Episcopal church but have no idea what to wear on Sunday. 

I have this weird idea of Episcopalians (or is it Episcopals?) as either like the family in Life With Father (old fashioned, proper, society-ish) or Stuff White People Like-ish. I know neither is based in reality. 

 

As a former Episcopalian, turned Catholic (mostly because of marriage and wanting my kids to have consistency), I would say that there is a certain amount of truth in that!  Not always, there are wonderful Episcopalian congregations that are predominantly African American, for example.   But it's also a denomination tied pretty closely to England, and WASPYness. 

6 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Perhaps other ex or current Catholics can understand this. 'Doxing' (converting to Orthodoxy) was fine. But Protestant? Oh my! It's taking the soup! It feels like a betrayal of something, IDK. 

 


I totally understand, I went the other way, and some of Protestant relatives react the same way.  

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As far as dressing up and Episcopalians, it depends on the parish.  I would say at MOST parishes at Sunday morning services are business casual to more formal dress.  But it varies tremendously.  We went to a parish with an evening service, and people didn't dress up for that one.  If you're curious about a particular parish, go to their website and see if they have photos from activities or services on Sunday.  Sometimes that gives you a bit of a hint about how people might be dressed.  

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Perhaps other ex or current Catholics can understand this. 'Doxing' (converting to Orthodoxy) was fine. But Protestant? Oh my! It's taking the soup! It feels like a betrayal of something, IDK. 

 

Wow, no. In my family of origin it would be the complete opposite. My Hungarian, Polish and Slovak Habsburg ancestors had a deep distrust of Russians and Serbs. It wouldn't be a big deal to be Lutheran but to have anything to do with the menacing empire on their doorstep would be completely unacceptable.

In dh's Venezuelan family, converting is akin to renouncing your entire social standing. Protestants who are not recent immigrants who brought their faith with them are perceived as selling out their traditions for free stuff (because foreign missionaries often offer precisely that.)

I know these views sounds harsh to American ears, but I think they may allow you to shift your perspective and see that these are just cultural prejudices, not real substantive issues that should influence your choice.

 

Edited by chiguirre
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