I'm needing some IRL community. for me, for my family, for my kids. I'm about 90% Atheist, and about 10% agnostic. that 10% is because shit, there is a lot I don't know, so how can I claim to KNOW that there is no god? plus, I feel that for D, he needs some other viewpoints in his life. we've talked about what I/we believe and in the typical 6yo fashion he believes pretty much exactly what I do. I want to give him lots of options and opinions so he can come to his own set of beliefs. I'm looking for a community that accepts us as we are and can offer us some of the things that a community can. I'm intrigued that the local church here is having a thanksgiving sunday service for Atheists. I'm guessing that the congregation has enough non-believers to warrant having a service dedicated to Atheism. this is promising.
I know some of you have attended these churches and I'm wondering what you can tell me about your experiences. Is it: truly as inclusive as they claim to be? w/o the dogma that conventional religion clings to? What is the best/worst part about the church? things to expect?
So, i'm a little apprehensive but I need something... I don't have much of a community around me and more and more I'm seeing that maybe that is the root of so many problems today. we've talked about it here before, how it takes a village, and it seems I am w/o one (at least IRL). I need people. I really do. I also seem to have some social anxiety which makes it hard to connect with the people I need. I mean, I can fake it enough when out and about, but forming anything meaningful has become very tough for me.
I dream of the OS commune. but until then, I'm looking locally.
Yeah, I was wondering about that, too, Andromeda...
We never joined (a) because we couldn't get to the classes (which I don't think you HAVE to do but it's a nice introduction) and (b) because we can't donate anyway. Our church does an annual campaign asking everyone to donate and passes out a table with guidelines for different suggested levels of giving, depending on how much you make and how much you feel you can/want to give.
Since we are financially strapped, we haven't given anything. Nobody really knows that, though, except I guess the accountant. Therefore we don't get treated differently. We participate in everything we want to, we volunteer our time when we can (which I view as our form of giving), we get invited to everything, there are no special member/non-member pricing on events or anything like that.
When they have called to request our participation in annual giving, I just explain that we're not in a financial position to do that this year. They're very polite and don't ask again until the following year.
I'm glad you liked it!
We've visited UU congregations before and have never been asked to go to classes or to give money. The Quaker meetings usually will do a "please drop a donation in the box in the hall" thing during post-meeting announcements just to pay rent on the space and stuff, and they ask for donations if you stay for the community lunch, but nobody's ever looked askance when I give a dollar or something. But then again, I never noticed tithing when I went to Catholic church, except there they passed baskets, so maybe I'm not a very reliable reporter. ;)
Having been on the UU board, it gave me a little different perspective. We were always struggling financially. About 25% of our money came from from fundraisers and the rest from the pledges people make. We would develop our annual budget based on the pledges and then pray (ha!) that people would be able to make them. I think often folks don't think about what it really costs to run a church. Of course it depends on size, but we had a mortgage (our church was in a converted home), utilities, cleaning crew, insurance staff salaries (minister, administrator, youth leader, music director) and while some of these were part time salaries, we were very intent on providing at least some level of health care and educational funds, insurance, cleaning and landscaping crew, postage, maintenance, printing costs for the programs etc. etc.
You shouldn't be asked to contribute unless you actually join and/or you are a really regular member. Our congregation approached it a lot like public broadcasting - pay what you can based on your ability and on what you get from it. If you can't afford funds, pay with time and talent.
thanks everyone! that does clear things up a bit. I know it takes money to run a church, so I'm not opposed to the idea of asking for help from the congregation. i'll wait and see about joining officially after i figure if this is a good fit long term, but so far it looks promising. i'm also really interested in donating my time and it seems there are quite a few opportunities for that.
Usually, people who are members can vote and be on the board, and people who aren't members can't. But that's the only difference I can think of. Members are expected to contribute financially, but how much is up to them. There are people at my church who have attended for twenty years but never joined, and consider themselves "friends" rather than "members". Some of them do give money, so for them it's more that they're just not joiners. Nobody seems to look askance at that (other than some good-natured ribbing about them just trying to get out of being on the board).
Some (most? all?) churches take up a collection during the service, and that money goes to various things depending on the church. Some keep the money and use it for church stuff, some donate it to an organization like a food pantry, some split it with that kind of organization, some take up two collections, one for the church and one for an outside organization... but a lot of times they're preface the offertory by saying something about if you're a guest, don't worry about it.
I'm glad you felt like it might be a good fit for your family! It's nice to find a group you fit well with.