Today marks my third Sunday in seminary, and with that, the third sunday that I have ventured out in search of the church that I can call home. Seminary puts you into a very interesting position, in that truly your new faith community, those who you will worship and commune with on the most-regular basis, are your fellow seminarians throughout the daily services each week. And then you hit the weekend and you’re challenged to venture out and find that other faith community where you can experience God, join in communion, and grow outside of the seminary experience.
So far, I have experienced three very unique styles of worship, all very different from each other, and two of which were quite different from any previous worship that I had experienced.
My first week, I ventured out with some new friends to a larger parish. I enjoyed aspects of the service, including a very engaging (and entertaining) sermon on the merits of #yolo, but felt like the service was too impersonal. It seemed that the service was designed to get you in and out in as short of time as possible (entire service including Eucharist for 100+ took 55 minutes), and that attitude meant that people were there more as an obligation, rather than as a time to join together as one body and experience the presence of God amongst us.
The second week, I struck out on my own. After researching a number of parishes on the FieldEd list, I picked one that struck me with the ministries offered and the fact that their website was the most up to date of those I visited. What I stumbled across turned out to be a very interesting parish, that I could get very excited about exploring more. It is a smaller parish, but they are very active in their community, and the people coming to worship there are definitely in it for the community experience.
This week, I joined a great number of my classmates to experience one of the more interesting parishes, in that it touted itself as a anglo-catholic high church experience, and were very serious about that fact. It was an interesting experience, and I believe that I got more out of it this week than I could have otherwise, simply because I was able to share it with people who were also experiencing this style for the first time. The greatest part of this worship experience was not the worship itself, but the ability to explore the feelings and emotions of my fellow seminarians as we dissected what we had just shared in together.
I look forward to the opportunity to continue exploring churches in this area, and hope that two or three really jump out at me as exciting places to explore FieldEd possibilities for the next year (or two). Having already experienced a wide-range of services, I’m excited to see what else the DC area can offer.