April 10, 2017
“You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions.”
Denis Waitley, American motivational speaker, writer and consultant.
STUFF I KNOW © Kathleen McKern Verigin
Someone told me that there are fifty churches in our new home town of McMinnville, Oregon. That’s a lot of worship centers given our modest population of 33,000. Upon our arrival last September, I thought it would be easy to find an open, inclusive and liberal congregation to join. This because our county skews conservative while the town of McMinnville skews liberal. After some research, the community that stood out was First Baptist Church. Baptist? Eeegads, I thought, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Baptist church. But then I kept noticing in our bi-weekly newspaper events that FBC sponsored. Like the former mayor of Silverton, a trans woman, speaking last September about LGBQ rights. At a Baptist church?
As I began to meet spiritual women who share my passion for earth-based and feminine respected spirituality, I again heard positive things about First Baptist Church. One woman said, “If you’re looking for liberal church, go check it out.” I was hesitant and put the idea on hold. Until I met my new chiropractor.
I noticed on his bio that his wife is the pastor at First Baptist Church. A coincidence? As I got to know the doctor, who himself seemed open minded and open hearted, I mustered the courage to inquire. He had all good things to say, reminding me that FBC is American Baptist, not Southern Baptist. I had no idea there was a difference! I thought all Baptists were holy rollers and conservatives, with closed minds and hearts. Wasn’t that loving of me?
Comparison of Southern Baptist & American Baptist Beliefs
By Janet Mulroney Clark
Southern Baptists follow a statement of beliefs contained in “The Baptist Faith and Message” as a guide for following Christ’s teachings. American Baptists embrace individualized worship not bound by creeds or statements of belief. They encourage diversity of thought in allowing a Christian to interpret scripture and develop a relationship with God.
The next Sunday found me at the First Baptist Church, sitting in a pew at the 11:00am contemporary service. It felt good to be there. Nothing offended me. Believe me, I tried to find reasons to be offended to confirm my righteous condemnation of all Baptists. It was then that my mind opened and my heart softened. I’d lived my whole life believing Baptists were bad, separate from My Loving God, and not worthy of my presence.
The word Baptist means “…one who baptizes.” At that first service I attended, I left feeling baptized, cleansed and forgiven for my error thinking. I was made whole again. My judgment was gone. I’ve returned a few times and each time my heart softens more. Palm Sunday was beautiful. I greatly look forward to Easter Sunday. Bottom line, I love and respect all beings who pursue a spiritual path that embraces and practices the religion of kindness, love and inclusivity. I don’t care if it’s Baptist, Buddhist or Bahá’í.
In closing, I apologize to all Baptists, and Christians in general, whom I have judged. I forgive myself for my assumptions. This Holy Week, may we all remember that We Are One, and we’re all in this together.
Want to learn more about the difference between American and Southern Baptist? Check out this website: http://classroom.synonym.com/comparison-southern-baptist-american-baptist-beliefs-5797.html