In conversations with others during the process of becoming a member of Hope, I found that I was far from the only Catholic there. I found myself wondering if they felt as guilty attending a non-Catholic church as I did. You see, as Catholics, we have been brought up with the ‘guilt’ card, followed up by fear. Later in life, I found this to be sad but true. When a dear friend of mine said to me one day, ‘I have always known a kind, loving and merciful God, where you grew up in fear’, I knew something had to change. I really began to rethink my spiritual journey – so I came to Hope and the first thing that Pastor Barry said was, “Welcome, welcome, welcome to all who are new to Hope” and then when he said, “When you walk through those doors you are family, as we are all children of God.” I can’t tell you how at ease and welcome that made me feel.
Quotes are not exact, but I think you get the idea of what spoke the loudest to me and what prompted my change to a Lutheran Church. Oh – one more thing. On that first visit when I filed out of the church, Pastor Barry was shaking hands with everyone and when I got up to him he looked at me and then gave me a big hug. On the way home, I had so many thoughts going through my head and when he hugged me – I took that as I found a church where the Pastor was down-to-earth and passionately cared about his parishioners. At one of the Catholic churches I attended for quite some time (my children received their sacraments there), when I would leave church each Sunday, the Priest would shake my hand but did not even give me eye contact. He was always looking past me as I believe I was not one of the popular people, or the big contributor etc. In any event, I was certainly not important to him which always left me feeling so inadequate and unfulfilled each Sunday.
That is certainly not the way I feel when I go home now. I am uplifted and ready to face the week after always hearing a great message and listening to an amazing choir (as music in the service is very important to me also).
God bless you all!