Friday, May 7, 2010
Donna and Dan - 5
As noted in the last post, we had already met some Jeff Streeters in our time meeting with an intentional community group. Also, when Donna was pregnant with Jordan, she found out that our current pastor, Cindy, was also pregnant with what would be Dylan.
Donna and Cindy had met ocassionally through her work as a social worker and Cindy's efforts to meet needs at Jeff St. With this new common tie, Cindy and Donna began meeting every once in a while as sort of a pregnancy support group and established a friendship.
At that time, though, we still attended Baptist Tabernacle, Donna still had her job there as a church social worker and we had no plans to move. Besides, as much as we liked many of the people we were meeting at Jeff St, they were just too liberal for our tastes. The big problem for us at that time was the whole gay thing. Jeff St was welcoming and affirming to gay folk and Donna and I were not.
We had become more comfortable with the notion of hanging out with those more liberalish than us. We had always leaned towards peacemaking and justice issues, we had a concern for the poor and a desire for simple living, we shared a concern for the environment and had an appreciation for social workers, teachers, environmentalists, Gandhi, Romero, MLK, etc. In short, at that point while we may still have at least a little identified as conservatives still, we were closet liberals and just didn't know it.
At Baptist Tabernacle, funds had begun to get tight and times had begun to get difficult. Sometime, just before Sarah Grace was born in 1996, it became clear that we could not stay at Tabernacle any longer. After having spent almost ten years there at our first real church home together, we would have to find a new church.
As I said, we were familiar with Jeff St. We had attended the Urban Goatwalker - their wonderful coffee house for the homeless, poor and mentally ill - and were impressed with that. We had begun some good friendships with a few of the people there and respected them as a church of peacemakers and saints of God.
But there was still the whole gay issue.
So, we shopped around, looking for a new church home.
Sometime, in the years leading up to this stage in our lives, I had come across a book by Art Gish. Donna and I were in Nashville, IN (an arts/crafts kind of town) and I was visiting a used book store, as I am wont to do. Back then, when I was looking for books, I almost always would go to the Christian section of the store and there in a little used bookstore in Nashville, IN, I saw, Living in Christian Community, by Art Gish.
Gish comes from the anabaptist tradition and, at the time, I knew very little about anabaptists except what I knew about the Amish, whom I respected but had no great desire to live like. But because I was still interested in living in Christian community, this book just jumped out at me.
In reading its pages, I found a home. "THIS is what I believe!" I remember saying to more than one person.
Gish describes not just the various anabaptist traditions - Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish, the Brethren - but also other faithful Christian groups who attempted to live life in a more communal way, hearkening back to the early church as described in the book of Acts. The book had a great impact upon my life.
While Donna was, at the time, more comfortable with "the liberals," there was still a part of me that held "them" at arm's length. I was glad to participate with them in rallies, in opposing war, in supporting housing for the poor, Habitat for Humanity and these sorts of efforts, but I didn't really want to belong to a "liberal" church. However, one of the things that stuck with me in Gish's book (written in the Viet Nam era) was that he identified and felt comfortable with the Jesus hippies he met. And, if Gish (whom I respected) could be comfortable with them, I guess I could give it a try.
I agreed to go to Jeff St...