Archive for May 2011

UMW: “It’s All About Missions”

May 19, 2011

This past Tuesday, May 16, Wesley Memorial UMW joined other UMW circles from the South Carolina Annual Conference for a Celebrate Missions Day at Trenholm Road UMC. The theme was “It’s all about missions,” and it was clear that our UMW circles in SC support many missions around the world.

As I was sitting in worship I thought about Wesley Memorial, and all the ways we are in service to our community. Our church’s mission states, “We are a neighborhood church in service to God and our neighbors, and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” During the year of 2011 our church has pledged to support and serve ministries in our local community. You could say that the UMW’s theme on May 16 is our theme for the year. We, at Wesley Memorial UMC, have truly been all about missions. We are a smaller congregation, but we are a very generous, giving congregation.  We are people with warm hearts and active hands.

There is so much talk about numbers these days in churches, especially smaller churches who fear and feel decline immensely. But churches are not called to be all about numbers. We are called to be all about God’s mission which serves and loves those within and outside the church. I think it is too easy for churches to focus so much on numbers that such a focus keeps them from living into the mission and call of God to go boldly forth in our world to spread and share the Good News. Sometimes our fear of decline and our focus on merely getting numbers in the pews keep us from doing the work of God as faithful disciples. Doesn’t Matthew 18:20 say, “Wherever two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” Pure numbers do not make a vital congregation. Faithful disciples–whether that is 10 or 100 or 1000–make congregations vital and relevant in their communities and in the world.

I truly believe that as long as we are faithful in our service to God and our neighbors, and as long as we keep seeking and growing our relationship with God and one another, God will provide–and providing might just be sustaining. God provides for God’s people in different ways, sometimes mysterious ways and sometimes not the way we would imagine, but God provides.

God has provided for our little congregation at Wesley Memorial. We are a church that frets not only about our declining membership, but our finances. However we have a lot to be thankful and praise God for. We set out in January 2011 to not only participate in a service project each month, but we also have been doing a green project each month, and we made it our goal to be better stewards of God’s money by retiring a 7-year-old debt of $147,000. This year is truly a year that is “all about missions” at Wesley Memorial. It is a year that we are reminding ourselves that Christ’s way is a life of selfless giving; it is a year we focus on our relationship with God, the church, our neighbors, those in need and the earth. It is a year of consummation rather than consumption. It is about giving rather than taking.

We have given beyond our tithing to retire the 7-year-old $147,000 debt that has been the church’s albatross. It is only May and we only have $12,000 before we meet our goal to retire the debt in full. We have committed to giving more time in Bible Study, choir, band, fellowship and other spiritual formation opportunities at our church. We have committed ourselves to be living sacrifices by serving the community around us, and we have committed to being better stewards of the earth by going green. We are living into the Wesleyan way of following Christ by wholly giving of our hearts, minds and spirits to sharing the Good News and living out our faith in the world around us by moving our beliefs from words to hands and feet that serve those in need.

I think I said in the last post that this Sunday is Heritage Sunday in United Methodist Churches, and I am preaching from 1 Peter 2:2-10 which says in verse 5, “like a living stone, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.” Our place of worship on Sunday Morning might be the bricks and mortar that sit at 2501 Heyward Street, but Wesley Memorial is more than bricks and mortar; we are living stones. The living stones of today’s congregation have inherited a long history of Wesley Memorial living stones at service to God and our community. We are a church with a long history of people who have made it their lives’ mission to be “all about missions,” all about God’s mission to transform the world.

Yes, we may be small in number, but we are a giving church who has made our mission to serve our neighbors with the trust that God is with us in our serving and that all those we serve will come to know the great love of our God.

Serving God and Neighbor: some of the folks we have served this year…

Washington Street Soup Cellar
Books for a Native American Elementary School in New Mexico
Harvest Hope Food Bank
Neighborhood Festival
Pumpkin Patch
Christmas Caroling at the Nursing Homes
Lent Connectional Offering for Local Ministries of the UMC|
VBS
Oliver Gospel Mission Sunday Worship
Oliver Gospel Mission Bags
Epworth Children’s Home Boys’ Cottage
Epworth Mothers’ Day Offering
Killingsworth Gala
Killingsworth Golf Tournament
Caps for Aveda
Tabs for Ronald McDonald House
Ronald McDonald House of Columbia dinner
UMW Missions: stamps and envelopes (Bethlehem Center Spartanburg, Bethlehem Center Columbia, Wallace Family Center, Killingsworth, and Rural Missions)
Church Women United: Migrant Farmers Health Kits

Worship at Wesley Memorial

May 16, 2011

If you visit at church on Sunday mornings or even if you have checked out our website, WorshipWesleyMemorial.com, you will find out that we are a blended service–at least we try to be most Sundays. It is a tricky thing planning worship for a church where half the people want the traditional UMC service and the other half wants to try newer, more contemporary worships liturgies, styles and music. It is difficult because we have just enough people for one Sunday morning service, but not enough to have two services to fully cater to both interests, so we are forced to attempt a blended, middle-of-the-road service…which I think we do rather well for the most part. We have a lot of talented, dedicated and faithful people who help make Sunday mornings a beautiful gathering of the people of God.

The place we struggle with the most is music–so it was lifted up during a church council where we were discussing the strengths and weaknesses of our church, and unfortunately music is probably 75-percent of church worship services. I have been told that good music can make up for less than stellar preaching, but awesome preaching cannot make up for bad music. This is unfortunate because worship–music and all–is not entertainment for us or those who come into our church, but a gift to God, and all God requires is that our hearts be sincere as we lift a joyful noise to the Lord. And I do hope that is what the Lord wants from us because if our salvation depends on how well we sing or how well we please God with our musical offerings then I am condemned for sure. The Lord knows that I do not have a singing voice meant to be microphoned or even really heard by anyone other than God. It is a joyful noise in the broadest sense of the phrase. That is why I do not sing or play in the band or choir. Oh, I do sing. I do not stand in church with tight lips because after all our United Methodist Hymnal instructs all of us to sing lustily, and so I sing and try my hardest to blend in with those around me. I love music, and I am happy God has blessed so many with musical gifts. It makes me think of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12 about being one body–“the eye cannot say to the mouth, ‘I have no need of you,’ and the mouth cannot say to the ear, ‘I have no need of you…'” I am thankful we have people who can sing and make up for where I am weak.

I think worship is one of our strongest areas of our church…despite our weakest points being music. Our church is friendly and hospitable and loving, and I think those who visit us feel that warmth and care. It is really the only place, outside of the fun stuff like the pumpkin patch and Easter egg hunt, that we can people to come into our church. It is really the only place of spiritual formation that we get new people. So, that is all the more reason to strengthen our worship service, so that people truly feel the presence of God that abides at every worship service, and all the more reason to strive to make our service a place of hospitality, relationship and invitation that will lead people to seek out some of our other non-Sunday morning discipleship and spiritual formation opportunities.

That is my hope and prayer for Wesley Memorial.

Check out the Wesley Memorial Praise Band:

Check out the Wesley Memorial Choir:

Ministry with the Chronologically Gifted

May 16, 2011

One of my bosses at a church I interned with said to me, “You are an old soul in a young person’s body.” That is partly true. I have sometimes felt that I am older than my physical age, and yet I am someone who kind of fears aging–all the unknowns, slowing down, losing some of my independence and all that comes along with aging sometimes scares me and makes me wish I could be forever young. Despite my fear of aging I love old people. Yes, old, wrinkly, gray-haired, slow-walking, denture-wearing, story-telling, wisdom-filled old folks–or as my mom calls them, the “chronologically gifted.”

We have a lot of those kind of folks at Wesley Memorial. Probably fifty-percent of our church is over 65 and many of them are full of vitality, life and energy, and for some it takes all their energy just to get to church on Sunday. And of course we have our handful who are in nursing and assisted living homes, or homebound.  We cover a good spectrum of chronologically gifted folks. We have a 96-year-old woman who still gets out to walk her granddaughter’s dog, work in the year and regularly plays canasta tournaments. There is a 95 year-old who is full of stories of the past and timeless wisdom even though things of the present don’t seem to find their way to her longterm memory. We have a 94-year-old lady with gorgeous hair and beautiful skin who regularly invites me over for a glass of afternoon wine and lots of laughs. We have a 106-year-old member who mostly sleeps and always seems slightly irritated when you wake her from her 20-hour nap. We have an 86-year-old lady who lives at an assisted living home, but longs for her home-home but doesn’t want to burden her children, so she obeys their wishes for her to live where 24-hour care is available. And of course we have that crew of older women who carefully die their grays and hide their hearing aids, not wanting anyone to know they’re getting old.

And like all churches, so it seems, we have our token men. I have learned that older women far outnumber older men. Men are hot commodities when you start getting older–even much more so than when you were 16 apparently. At one nursing home there is one man for every ten women. That is about true for the older folks at our church too. One of our token chronologically gifted men is 90-years-old and physically limited only by his weak ankles, but his mind and sense of humor is sharp as a tack. Another has very selective memory and hardly remembers anyone who visits him from church, but physically he seems to be young and spry; he is known for walking laps around the nursing home and chatting up nurses who he meets for the first time everyday.

All these observations may seem sad to the reader, but this is our family at Wesley Memorial, and I love every one of our older folks. Visitations have become one of my, if not my most favorite, duty of pastoring. I often joke that my next job is going to be employed at a nursing or assisted living home. I can’t get enough of the chronologically gifted. They, no matter their physical or mental state, are full of love–especially for our church and the young people continuing to be shaped, nurtured and sent out from our church. They are mostly positive and encouraging and extremely supportive, and most of all they have great hope for future generations…especially great hope for our church like ours that seems to be dying right before their eyes.

But these folks have been through this before. Our history at Wesley Memorial is full of ups and downs…and great perseverance. Great, great perseverance. Our church is 100-years-old, and many of our chronologically gifted members have seen this church through its teen and middle age years, and now they and the church continue to grow older and look for ways to be relevant and guide younger generations into a faith that has helped them persevere the ups, downs, unknowns and surprises of life.

So much of energy in churches today focuses on bringing in younger people. That is good, but it is not a good goal at the expense of neglecting the older folks who have so much to offer younger Christians. If we ignore and don’t care for our older folks pearls of wisdom, stories and teachings will be lost–much to the detriment of present and future generations in our churches.

This Sunday, May 22, is Heritage Sunday in United Methodist churches–a day we remember our Methodist Heritage all the way back to John and Charles Wesley, and it is a Sunday each local congregation remembers and celebrates the church histories of our local congregations. Most of us don’t have to go rummage through the old church archives to discover the rich histories we inherit. Many of us have folks sitting in our pews every Sunday who have lived a good part of our churches’ stories. So, this Sunday should be a Sunday to share stories of the past, stories that will give hope to the present and for the future. It is a good Sunday to “talk story” as they say in Hawaii. A time to sit down a listen to some of the chronologically gifted of the congregation share their stories of church and community. I think if you do you will truly be blessed.

Check out Mrs. Elizabeth Cox jam at the Rice Home Spring Chime Concert:

The United Methodist Church Connexion

May 5, 2011

Talk of church structure or organization would probably put most people to sleep, but the unique Methodist structure is part of the heritage we inherit and should be something every Methodist should be familiar with. Our church structure is rooted in scripture, and for me it reminds me that we are not alone; we are not isolated local churches left to our own resources and in competition with other like or dissimilar churches. No, we are a connection, a partnership of clergy called to different areas of service in the church.

Our Columbia DS, Dr. Rev. Tim McClendon, reminded me of this intimate, family-like connection or partnership at our clergy meeting on May 3. He said that too often we think about our church structure as hierarchical, but that our relationship is more horizontal. I don’t know how many UM folks share this opinion, but I would like to believe we as local pastors, district superintendents, bishops and lay people are in a partnership with one another. Some times the political-like campaigning and networking that goes on at annual conference and other clergy functions speaks of hierarchy rather than partnership. What are those verses from 1 Corinthians 12…”Now there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are a variety of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, [local church pastors or bishops or lay people]–and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” And then Paul goes on to further show how as one body all members are important. Partnership of the Gospel is at the heart of UMC connectionalism and even our church structure. Some have been called to the administration side of the church, some called to be bishops, district superintendents, preachers, teachers, pastors, and lay leaders–but all are needed in the life of the church.

Our structure or organization of our church is what has kept us “methodical” since the days of John Wesley’s Oxford Holy Club. It is what has made us a global connection because being in partnership and having many layers of structure supports ministry and mission in the poorest and hardest to reach of places. All the various councils, committees, agencies, conferences and districts are in partnership and support of one another in carrying out the mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in the here and now. That support of and partnership in our mission breaks down when our connection ceases to be horizontal and becomes more vertical or hierarchal. Let us pray for our church and those persons partnered in leading our church.

Revisiting Maundy Thursday

May 4, 2011

I said in my last post that “Lent didn’t go as planned.” Some things went better than I could have ever planned. It is amazing what the Holy Spirit can do if we just let go and let God.

We had a beautifully moving Maundy Thursday service where we did a handwashing to remember the last evening Jesus spent with his disciples washing their feet and sharing a meal. The United Methodist Book of Worship reminded me that footwashing is a powerful response to the Word. Footwashing like Holy Communion is an act of sending forth. Footwashing (or in our case at WMUMC a handwashing) prepares each of us to be the hands and feet of Christ in our world today. Sharing in a footwashing followed by the Lord’s Supper intimately invited people into this story of John 13. It was a powerful visual and experience that dramatized the servanthood of Jesus, both the night before his death and in his continuing presence in our midst.

I took a brief video of some of our folks sharing in this humbling ritual of handwashing:

A Church that Questions and Doubts

May 4, 2011

So, Lent didn’t go as planned. But that’s life, right? No one really got into the “living the questions” via our blog…or for that matter not one question was submitted in the pretty little box I put in the narthex. It is still there. Empty. Dusty. I am still hoping that one day someone will have the courage to question, to begin conversation on some difficult bible verses, beliefs and church traditions. When our church culture bumps up against other cultures or even the unique cultures of our families, school, neighborhoods, work and friends there are bound to be questions, doubts and curiosities. I know people have questions, but I don’t know why they haven’t asked any at church.

I am a question asker. I was one of those annoying two-year-olds that was a broken record repeating “why, why, why.” When I was 4 my mom had a miscarriage. My first couple of questions when she came home from the hospital were, “Why would God let this happen? Are you being punished?” My mom cried. I got a spanking and sent to my room, but that didn’t stop me from asking those hard theodicy questions–I still ask them. My timing when I was younger was often less than tactful, and so I often got chastised and spanked and sent to my room. But my parents eventually would answer my questions. A year after my mom’s miscarriage my grandfather died. More questions. I didn’t understand. I wanted to know everything about heaven and hell and why bad things seem to happen to good people. I had nightmares for months after my grandfather died; nightmares of darkness, angels, demons, fire and even some conversations with my dead grandfather…nightmares that only prompted more questions. So, since I was young I have always been a question asker, so I don’t know why people don’t ask questions–especially at church.

Well, maybe I do know why. I think the church has become a place people go to get answers rather than ask questions, seek and encourage one another through doubt, skepticism and unbelief. Church should be a place that does not give all the answers, but the church should be a place and a people that live the mysteries and questions and doubts of our faith and invite doubters, skeptics, and people with questions into a conversation or dialogue. After all look at the folks who were drawn to Jesus and hung around with; he hung around sinners and skeptics and doubters of all kinds, and people flocked to see him heal the lame, restore sight to the blind and perform miracle after miracle. And his inner most circle of friends, the disciples, who ate and went with him everywhere and who were taught at Jesus’ feet and who Jesus repeatedly foretold his resurrection to—even these disciples doubted and needed Jesus to calm their fears and doubts and answer questions. Yes, we are called to live, profess and embody the Good News of Christ, but our job is not to convince people of Christ’s resurrection—but to share the joy of the resurrection with everyone we meet until they encounter the risen Christ and can claim it for themselves. We have to leave room for the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives.

This past Sunday the sermon text was John 20:19-31. In those verses Jesus breathes on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus is alive in our world today, in the here and now, and he has the power to soften the hardest hearts—hearts of skeptics, doubters and people with questions and fears. I think the lesson we learn from these “doubting Thomas” verses is that Jesus welcomes doubters, questioners, seekers, and skeptics.

I have always felt kind of sorry for Thomas because I have kind of identified with Thomas. He is forever remembered throughout history as the doubting disciple. I never thought his request to see Jesus’ hands and side was that ridiculous. After all when Jesus visits the disciples and Thomas is not around Jesus shows the other disciples his hands and his side; the disciples didn’t rejoice until after Jesus showed them his hands and side, so clearly Jesus thought that the only way the other disciples who had locked themselves in a room in fear would believe woule be to show them tangible, physical evidence that he is the risen Christ. But unfortunately poor Thomas gets the bad rap throughout history as the one who boldly made an ultimatum—either I see or I will not believe.

And because of such a bold demand Thomas is forever “doubting Thomas,” and not Thomas “the twin” as John 20:24 calls him or the courageous Thomas of John 11 who witnesses Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead and encouraged the other disciples to follow Jesus into Jerusalem where Jesus would be killed. In John 11:16 this same doubting Thomas from our story in John 20 boldly says, “Let us also go with Jesus, so that we may die with him.” But we rarely remember that scene with Thomas. Instead Thomas is most often called “doubting Thomas,” and unfortunately people throughout church history have used these verses to tell maturing disciples that doubt, questioning, wrestling with our faith is not a quality or characteristic of a mature disciple of Jesus Christ.

I read a sermon on John 20 that reminded me of a common saying in our language—“I’ll believe it when I see it.” That saying reminds me of some of my favorite shows on TV–the ones that bring seeming unbelievable things or situations to the screen—like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, or even some of those programs on The History Channel or even National Geographic. I remember when I was in elementary school every year we did a study on the ocean. Every teacher I had talked about the kind of strange life that lived at the very bottom of the ocean beyond any sunlight. I guess I trusted what they taught me, but it wasn’t until I saw the Discovery Channel’s program Planet Earth: The Blue Planet that I really believed. For the first time the whole world saw deep sea creatures that looked like things from a storybook. I think a lot of us, if we heard about some of these creatures would say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

I guess by this simple illustration and just the fact that our culture has a phrase to express doubt without first seeing tells us that there is probably a doubting Thomas in all of us. Would you agree? Is there a little bit of a Thomas in you? I know there is a Thomas in me. Remember I was one of those kids growing up that asked my parents a million times “why.” And I expected answers when I asked a question. When my parents didn’t know they helped me search and sometimes instead of an answer we found more and new questions. That questioning, seeking or call it doubting hasn’t left who I am. I am not a person of blind faith that has blindly, without question accepted the faith of my parents. Rather my doubts have led me to ask questions and seek God in the midst of my doubts and questions. I think I could say that I have grown in my faith and my faith has grown because of my questions and doubts that have sent me searching and praying for God to help my unbelief, to be in my doubts and to help me ask the right questions that will help my faith grow.

I agree with another pastor who once heard say that we as a church, for the most part, have completely misunderstood the nature of faith altogether. Too often we assume that the more faith we have the fewer questions we’ll have or ask, or that we will no longer have any doubts. But I know from my experience that isn’t true. As I have matured in my faith I seem to have more questions and there are still periods of doubt—as hard as that is to admit to you and to myself. I have doubts in certain areas of Scripture, but I do not let my doubts keep me from searching, asking questions, talking with friends and family about these doubts and most of all I don’t allow my doubts to keep me from expecting God to respond, answer and calm me.

And as Methodists the tradition we have inherited from John Wesley does not teach us that more faith means fewer questions and doubts. All you have to do is read John Wesley’s journals and you will see that he had plenty of questions and doubts and yet I think we would all call him a man of great faith. This month on May 24th we remember Wesley’s heart-warming experience. Wesley had been discouraged, hopeless and doubting and questioning his faith, but he kept searching, going to worship, studying the Bible, talking with friends, reading, and then one evening on May 24th when he was at a prayer service on Aldersgate Street in London he felt his heart strangely warmed and God calmed his soul and essentially told Wesley that God is in our imperfection, our doubt, our questions and all those things we do not understand, but pray to understand. There are plenty of people throughout our Christian history that have been people of admirable faith and yet they questioned and doubted.

And I think the Bible offers the same kind of picture of faith as ones from our own experience and church tradition, one in which faith and doubt are woven closer together than we might think. Faith, after all isn’t merely head knowledge, but as Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” To have some of Thomas in us is not only to be the Thomas of John 20, but it is also being that Thomas of John 11 who passionately and eagerly wanted to follow Jesus even though doing so meant he might die. Is it possible that faith needs doubt, or doubt helps deepen faith, or doubt is an ordinary part of the faith life? Are faith and doubt woven closer together than we thought?

Looking at doubt this way it seems that faith and doubt are not opposite, but faith and doubt are a part of a whole, part of a relationship—doubt is an essential ingredient of faith because it sends us on a search and in persistent questioning we are eventually led into deeper faith. Doubt illuminates questions we never thought to ask. Scripture, experience and tradition and even our rational, reason, logic-thinking side that says, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” teaches us that we don’t have to have all the answers and loose ends neatly tied up and figured out, but faith is coming with all our doubts and questions and trusting that God will speak to us and lead us to assurance and conviction of things not seen. Faith is having hope in the middle of all our doubts and questions, and faith is allowing that hope to lead us to trust God to hear our questions and respond and lead us through times of doubt.

One of my professors in my first year of seminary said to all of us future clergy, “If you are uncomfortable with the unknown or mystery then you are in the wrong line of work.” I think that could be said for Christians in general. There is a lot of mystery in our faith. There are a lot of Scripture verses, beliefs, traditions and ideas to wrestle with and understand. But it is in wrestling with our faith, it is in questioning, doubting and seeking to understand that we grow. Doubt is a normal part of our faith life and our process of growth in Christ. Doubt is only a problem when in our doubt we do not seek or ask questions, or do not leave part of ourselves open to hearing God or being changed or moved or convicted or assured or calmed.

One of my favorite is 1 Corinthians 4:1. Paul writes this, “Think of us, the body of Christ, in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.” Stewards of God’s mysteries—that sounds so beautiful to me because it reminds me that yes, our faith is full of mysteries, things we do not understand now, some things that we will understand more at a later time—maybe in this life and maybe in eternity, but that mystery is ok; mystery is a part of the faith life; mystery leads us to search and question and sometimes even doubt, but in all the mysteries of our faith there is an underlying assurance and hope that God is Emmanuel; God is with us in our doubts, questions and mysteries of faith, and God has given us the church, the holy body of Christ, a community of faith, to doubt, question, seek and wrestle with some of these mysteries and gray areas and hard-to-understand points of our faith.

a neighborhood church serving God and neighbor

Christ welcomes our questions, our doubts, and even our skepticism. And the church should be people who come together to ask questions, doubt, seek and wrestle with faith and what it means to be people in a faith living in our world today. Jesus did not rebuke Thomas. He first offered him peace, calmed him and met him in his doubt and questions. I really think that Thomas is a model disciple—a person so engaged in faith that he dared to ask and to doubt and to wait for and seek the risen Christ. I think that that is why John gives us the whole purpose of his writing his Gospel after this story of Thomas. John 20:30-31 says, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” John hopes that what happened to Thomas will happen to you and me and those who read John’s Gospel account. John hopes that Thomas’ story will give us hope and encourage us to seek Christ in all our doubts and to come to God with our questions.

What scares me is that the church has become a place where questions and doubts are not welcomed. If people don’t feel like they can ask questions and doubt then they will stop coming to church. I read an article once by Nancy Ammerman, a professor at BU. I can’t remember the name of her article but she said that the 21st century church needs to provide space for people to come together to ask those burning questions that can feel like obstacles to our faith. If people don’t feel like they can come with questions then they just won’t come. I hope and pray that Wesley Memorial is a place that truly has Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors because such a place is a place that welcomes people to question and doubt, such a place has faith in that the Holy Spirit is moving and breathing life into us and sustaining us through our questions and doubts. A church that questions and doubts might at first have negative conotations, but a church that questions and doubts is a genuine, living, breathing church—not a church that pretends and hides and avoids those hard to travel places. The journey of faith is not always an easy one. It is one that takes us up to high places but also one of low places where we must travel through in order to grow.