The problem was that church never seemed to be about that same message. For me, church was about rules, somber living, and listening to every word of the gospel as truth. At the same time, though, the pastors were insincere. One would act completely devout without question to your face, but decided to leave the church and the clergy not long after. The other would tell funny and interesting anecdotes during sermons, but they all turned out to be a lie.
Beyond the clergy, crying babies were whisked away so nobody would be bothered. The time where we all go around saying “Peace be with you” was just an awkward period where you were supposed to hug a bunch of strangers, but the people were never the same and nobody asked for your name. While singing the hymns, nobody bothered to stand out- everybody sang quietly and perfectly in time with the organ. Church, for me, was a place where you learned all of the things you’re not supposed to do, memorize all the things you were supposed to memorize, and, above all, you weren’t supposed to ask questions.
The Community of Travelers service is completely different. We are just that- a community. It’s a small group, but the same faces are there week after week, so you know everyone’s name. One member of the congregation brings a plate and cup for communion every week, so we all get a sense of each other’s personalities. There is always at least one dog at every service, maybe 2, and they are encouraged to sing along with us. When they act disruptive, the pastors remind us that they are G-d’s creation too, and are welcome to worship with us even if they do it in a different way. Every week, we break out for discussion, art projects, or individual prayer as a part of the service. It’s a space where exploring your faith and talking about your faith is not just welcome, but encouraged.
The service is also constantly evolving. Queen Michelle Jordan leads us in song every week, and we don’t know what to expect. She always wants us to participate, whether by singing, speaking, or clapping. One week, the congregation was even given drums! The pastors look to the congregation for feedback, so it truly feels like the service is for those that attend.
The best part is the fellowship after the service. I am a kind of shy person, but the fact that it’s a small community feels like I’m sharing some snacks with new friends. I may not know much about them yet, but every week I learn a little more. I hope for their success and health, and I miss them when they’re not there. I’ll be honest, I don’t even know my neighbors names and wouldn’t really notice if they moved out, but this group is so connected that we look out for each other.
In closing, if you like the traditional, somber church service, this isn’t for you. But if you’ve been thinking about going to a church service to see what it’s like, if you want to feel like part of a community, or if you just want to hang out with some dogs and eat some snacks, I welcome you to join us for service some time- you’ll have some fun.