Catholic, Christian and Catholic-Christian

Before I worked in ministry, I had absolutely no idea that there was such a divide within Christianity. Mind you, I come from a very small village. {Yes, village. We were too small to technically be called a town.} Many of us were Christian and I knew what church my friends went to, but it wasn’t talked about much, at least in my realm which included Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

I grew up Catholic like my dad. He took me to church every Sunday and Sunday School followed. I enjoyed church very much and was involved where I saw I could be. I didn’t seek out involvement, and I think that was simply ignorance of knowing that you could do that. My mom is a well-grounded Christian, she simply was a firm believer that you didn’t need to go to church in order to be a Christian.

As many do, I suppose, I lessened my church going during my college years. I attended a few Campus Crusade meetings, but not consistently. I would attend church around my personal plans rather than planning around church.

After college, I began attending church regularly again and began working for Heartbeat International, an interdenominational association of pregnancy help centers all over the world. It was here that I learned of the divide.
I first noticed it when I started, when almost every person genuinely was interested in where I attended church. This was a first for me.

Throughout college, I worked for a sports radio station. I never talked to anyone about anything so personal! However, I will never forget my last week when the very large, former NFL linebacker Chris Spielman stopped me in the hallway and boomed, “You didn’t tell me you were a Christian!!!” {He got the info from the memo about my departure.} I have never been so scared in my life! Have you ever had a linebacker yell at you!?! It is surprising, to say the least. Luckily, we had a great discussion after that 🙂

Anyway, it was nice to know that it was something that people were curious about and I had some amazing talks throughout my 9+ years there.

When I began working at Heartbeat, the staff was nicely split between Catholics and Evangelicals {a term brand new to me}. We held a conference just two months after and I remember the planning staff being very intentional about offering a variety of prayer options. Each conference had Catholic Mass in the morning, praise and worship followed, and one day had time set aside for Confession and personal prayer time which was offered to have people pray over you specifically – a very interesting opportunity, especially to someone having never been prayed over.

It wasn’t until talking with various conference attendees and staff that I learned of the divide among the groups. I never knew that some people thought anything negative about Catholics! On the flip-side, I never realized that some Catholics thought anything negative about other religions. After having these conversations, I grew to understand why Heartbeat was so intentional in including all aspects of prayer.

And that is when a conversation I had with a friend years ago is key. She is a very devout Catholic and I had serious questions about the concerns the various sects of Christianity, especially when talking with people at our conferences from the Bible belt. I didn’t want to alienate them simply because my answer to where I went to church divulged that I was a Catholic.

Note: Very few people I encountered did this, and I understand that there are people within each and every sect of any cause/religion who make their opinions too well known. I believe these people need muzzles. But that is simply my opinion.

She told me that when she was asked her religion, she would say she was a Catholic-Christian.

If you know me, you know that my face doesn’t hide any expressions.

My dumb-founded look screamed – Umm… Catholics ARE Christians. And that is when I learned that some don’t believe so. That broke my heart.

Fast-forward a couple of years… For most of my time at Heartbeat, I was the Event Planner. The detail that went into selecting keynote speakers and workshop presenters to ensure that the balance remained became part of our process.  We even introduced a workshop titled “Catholics and Evangelicals Working Together” each year – and it was always one of the top-ranked workshops. We were blessed to have a Catholic as our President and an Evangelical as our Vice President. They worked in harmony in a way that bettered our organization and my personal understanding of the branches of Christianity. I am forever thankful for that time in my life.

Fast-forward a couple more years… I started staying at home with my three minions. My husband and I started to notice something at the church we had been attending for years. Unfortunately, we were one of the only families there with small children. We started to long for a church with a focus on children. So, we began a church-hop to various churches to see what we could find that would encourage the children to want to be there well into their teenage years.

That hop lasted awhile. We started venturing out to non-denominational churches and landed at Community Christian Church North. They have the most amazing children’s program and we liked the feeling. Just last year, we moved into a new home and again needed to find a new church. We were very blessed to have found Heritage Church, which is very close to our new house. It, too, is non-denominational and is pastored by a former Catholic, so the feeling is sort of a hybrid. The kids program is very welcoming as well, which is our main priority at this season in life. Although, we still sit in the lobby until the praise music winds down 🙂

The interesting thing that I have encountered since entering this phase is that I find myself wondering what religion I am. I still consider myself a Catholic, but definitely understand that some would quite disagree with me. Overall, I find that I avoid the question when possible.

That said, I strive to help all churches through my freelance work and that often opens my eyes to new things. My recent work with the Catholic Women’s Conference gave me the opportunity to read a book written by one of the organizers – Divine Mercy for Moms. This book reminded me of certain aspects I love within the Catholic faith that no other church has given me. On the flip-side, we still haven’t found a Catholic church with the children’s ministry we long for.

So, I am sort of in a limbo of churches. For now, I suppose I am still trying to figure out if I am Catholic, Christian or Catholic-Christian and I will trust God to show me the way.

mass_symbols     Evangelical

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!!!
Andrea-sig

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