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The United States is a multicultural society. Today, this situation is no longer a question of values or policy. It is a fact, a condition of our culture. A growing number of linguistically-, culturally-, and religiously-diverse people are now calling themselves American citizens, and by 2040, it has been predicted that America's majority will be non-white and non-European. Unfortunately, this also means that a great number of people will part, at least, gradually with their cultural foundations and identities, including their spiritual orientations. As a result, non-denominational churches are expected to become a powerful and popular spiritual meeting place where people from all walks of life can share a common awareness and admiration for God and a appreciation for spirituality in general.

After four hundred years of assimiliation into a host culture that sought to remove them from their cultural foundations, African-Americans established the Black Church to meet their spiritual needs. But what of those African-Americans who cannot identify neither with The Black Church nor with indigenous African religions? These African-Americans are left to carve out their own path to a spritual orientation with which they can identify. Could non-denominational churches light the way to this path?

Discuss your experiences with non-deonminal churches. Are they the answer to Multicultural America's spiritual needs? Are they as inclusive as they claim to be?
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You've brought up non-denominational churches before, but I don't understand your view.

Why would a non-Christian seek his spiritual fill in a non-denominational church, but not at another church? Why is it assumed that a non-denominational church will be a meeting ground for all the different religions in the US?

Do you mean to imply that non-denominational means adhering to no specific religion?

That's the view I got last time I noticed you brought up the point, but at least up here in NY, non-denominational churches are Christian establishments.

Past thread I'm referring to.

quote:
Originally posted by ma'am:
quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
I've always been suspicious of any religious institution that claims to be "non-denominational." Even in these seemingly neutral church environments, one religion usually takes precedence over all others: CHRISTIANITY. Therefore, I think the goal of such churches is to merely attract more members. Church leaders have recognized that more and more people have become unwilling to commit themselves to one religious establishment, and so they merely change the origninal names of the church to "non-denominational" to enlarge the members of their congregation. Beware.


I'm non-denominational, but that doesn't mean I'm a Jehovajewihindutaoibuddiwiccanimist, lol.

I'm a Christian who isn't formally a part of a specific Christian denomination.

Non-denominational churches are the same.

Of course Christianity is preached above all else.

They are Christian establishments.

I've had very good experiences with non-denominational churches, but I'm not a member of one.

I'm non-denomination in that I pretty much welcome myself into any church that teaches right, regardless of sect.
quote:
Originally posted by ma'am:
What's your definition of a non-denominational church?


False Advertisement

My experience and knowledge about non-denominational churches is limited. I've never attended a non-denominational church, and I don't know anyone who is a member of one. This is why I'm inquiring about them: to gain in-depth awareness. You admitted earlier in the discussion that non-denominational churches are in fact Christian establishments and that is why Christianity takes precedence. However, whenever I see an advertisement on television inviting people to visit a non-denominational church, the adverstisement gives viewers the impression that the church is inclusive and receptive to all religions, not just those within the Christian system of religions. When first-time visitors attend the church, they might be surprised to discover that although the non-denominational church acknowledges others religions, only one religion and its accompanying text will be used as a frame of reference to support member's spiritual needs and convey a spiritual message. Don't you think this is false advertisement, or misleading.
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Rowe ...

My experiences with non-demnominational churches is also limited ... but I have attended services at two separate facilities, and I also have family who belong to such a church.

From what I've gathered, the non-denominational part is indeed supposed to denote no particular religion is presented over another ... however, each service that I've been to has been very "Christian-like"! They did not harp on the Bible, but quoted several different religious Books and other spiritual teachings. They both had a "love-your-fellow-man, togetherness, be-morally-aware, connect-with-the-spirit message. And that is also what I get a lot of from my cousins, one of which is a minister of her non-denominational church.

All are supposed to be welcomed ... and no one is supposed to be turned away. However, just as an example, when prayer time comes, they are conducted more in the Christian "bow your head" way than, say, the Muslim way of getting down on the floor on your knees and bowing. I'm not sure what would happen if a member chose to pray that way, though. Confused

I guess all-in-all, it was more of a Joel Olsteen-type of service than one of those "hellfire and damnation" types. But, I was still in a church and it still looked and felt like one. They still passed the plate the same way, and the preachers still asked for their "appreciation"! But, I wasn't told to get saved or die! sck
What you say if foreign to me because of different experiences.

I can't commment on the commercials.

I've never watched non-denominational church commercials, but have been to many non-denominational churches.

None have hid that they are Christian.

The Bibles make it obvious.

They sing Christian songs.

The terms the use are Christian.

Actually, on this site is the only place I've seen someone assume the church is not Christian, so I can't comment on how many people have been mislead by advertisements, either.

Be honest. If the name were Non-denominational mosque, would it be surprising for you to find out it had a Muslim base? LOL

Personally, I have yet to go to one that hasn't defined itself as a Christian place of worship. But perhaps that's a regional thing of something.

Kresge? What say you?

As for interfaith services, I have been to a few meetings for people of all different religions.

None have called themselves non-denominational churches. I would assume that'd turn away non-Christians.

The ones I've attended had names that didn't show bias towards a specific establishment.

Whether their services had bias, I can't say.

When I went, they were talking about social issues. They weren't preaching. Just talking and praying.

Like interfaith memorial services do. I don't know if you are aquainted with those.

Iono if that's your answer for a place that meets everyone's spiritual needs.
I would love to attend an inclusive church (or community meeting place) where a spiritual message is communicated using a variety of religious references. For example, let's say the message is about raising children. The pastor of this meeting place would be well-educated about a myriad of different religions and worldviews. Therefore, she would discuss what some traditional African religions say about how to raise children, what the Buddhist say about raising children, what the Koran says, what the American Natives say, etc. Of course she doesn't have to go into depth about what each religion says, but she could just discuss a few briefly, and then close the sermon with a unified message.

In other words, she wouldn't just talk from a White/Western Christian's perspective about how to raise children. She would give her congregation some variety so that they can compare information and think critically about what each cultural group believes. This is the kind of spiritual environment that would best serve the needs of today's society, in my opinion. And it will also help people to become a lot more informed and a lot less ignorant about the world.
quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Thank you Ma'm for explaining to me that non-denominational churches are Christian establishments. But response do you have to my last post. Would you be in favor of a church that uses multicultural references?


You're welcome! If you want anymore info, I'm sure Google brings up a lot.

As for your question, I must say that if I were looking for a place for many faiths, I'd hesitate to go to one that calls itself a "church" as the term is so closely associated with Christian places of worship.

But what are my feelings about a place (called whatever) that has multicultural references?

I've been to interfaith services in the past.

I don't see why I should have a problem.

A few years ago I listened to a minister who talked so much about other religions that I wondered if it were a church service at all (I figured he was a rabbi, then a imam, then a. . .on and on). At the end of services everything tied to Christianity, of course, but it was very informative in regards to those other religions.

I wish I remembered his name.

Such places are great for the trivia geek in me.
quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
I would love to attend an inclusive church (or community meeting place) where a spiritual message is communicated using a variety of religious references. For example, let's say the message is about raising children. The pastor of this meeting place would be well-educated about a myriad of different religions and worldviews. Therefore, she would discuss what some traditional African religions say about how to raise children, what the Buddhist say about raising children, what the Koran says, what the American Natives say, etc. Of course she doesn't have to go into depth about what each religion says, but she could just discuss a few briefly, and then close the sermon with a unified message.

In other words, she wouldn't just talk from a White/Western Christian's perspective about how to raise children. She would give her congregation some variety so that they can compare information and think critically about what each cultural group believes. This is the kind of spiritual environment that would best serve the needs of today's society, in my opinion. And it will also help people to become a lot more informed and a lot less ignorant about the world.




Rowe, what you're looking for is Unitarian Universalism. It is just such a "religion" ... where you might hear sermons coming from the perspective of Judaism one Sunday ... and from Hinduism the next Sunday. And religious education for the youth is similarly inclusive. Young people are taught about all the religious traditions and allowed to make up their own minds.

I'm technically a member of the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association). And I attend services about once a month.

I LOVE the spirit and the inclusiveness ...

My problem is that it doesn't draw very many African Americans. We make up a very small percentage of the denomination. So very often the inclusiveness is either symbolic (putting spirituals in the hymnal for example) or directed towards other groups (gays, trangendered people, or other ethnic groups like Latinos). For example, my minister has made a public stand for gay marriage and was fired from his (secular) job because of it. There's also a lot of interfaith and\or interracial marriage and transracial adoption.

But blacks come through the door, see there aren't very many black people, and go back out again. The current president of the UUA is black though. I guess that's progress.

Also UUism tends to be more cerebral and middle class. No shouting going on there (although I once attended a UU service where a Buddhist monk led a Southern Baptist style Sunday service). And since it's historically white it also carries with it some anglo cultural traditions.

But there are a few historically black UU congregations one of which I believe might be in DC.

For more info click on the link:

http://www.uua.org/
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My recent experience is that I haven't been as active as I used to be in the organization. And it's because I feel out of place socially. I'm one of the few singles, the only African American, and one of the youngest members of my church.

But I love my minister. Whenever I go to services (like this morning) I feel very touched by the message and intellectually stimulated as well.

If only there were more young black people ...
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This is funny that u bring up UU, HB, because for the last couple of weeks I've been meaning to attend a UU service. I was planning this week, but as it happened, a co-worker invited me to an AME church service today that she was to guest-speak at. I went, and I enjoyed myself.

I planned last Sunday to visit a UU church, but ended up too late for a service, but across the street from the church was a UU gathering. No religion, mainly social issues. This was in the Montclair, NJ congregation, in case u check the website.

I find what they seem to be about quite interesting, but there weren't many black people there (my own neighborhood UU church, in Orange, might be a bit blacker; we'll see). Everyone was either older than me or married, and they all seemed very much in the mold of the politcally far-left, kum-ba-ya type people. I respect them and felt comfortable, but we'll see when I go to a service if they're "for me."

I don't really think any religious body truly is, but when I read about them recently, they struck me as something I might be interested in. But like you, I do wish there was more of a black, and younger, presence there...
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:

I don't really think any religious body truly is, but when I read about them recently, they struck me as something I might be interested in. But like you, I do wish there was more of a black, and younger, presence there...


Vox, there are actually 3 UU churches in my town. I joined the one with the smallest congregation. I told my minister that this was because at his church there weren't as many white people ... Razz
Rowe, I think you are thinking about Unitarian Churches as opposed to Non-denominational churches.

Unitarian churches believe in a spirituality not restrained by a specific faith such as 'being born again' as such they are inclusive and non-dogmatic.

Non-denominational churches are Christian in nature, believe in salvation through the belief in Christ, and mostly believe in speaking in tongues and the gift of the holy spirit although not all hold to that. They simply don't follow a specific larger group doctrine like baptist, methodist, etc.
quote:
Originally posted by Dell Gines:
Oh, I see they already hit on Unitarianism above.

Although I would never attend, I think it would be interesting to have a 'black' unitarian church. I think it would do well actually.

A lot of people don't know that the CEO/President of the UUA is African American, William G. Sinkford.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
Rowe, what you're looking for is Unitarian Universalism. It is just such a "religion" ... where you might hear sermons coming from the perspective of Judaism one Sunday ... and from Hinduism the next Sunday. And religious education for the youth is similarly inclusive. Young people are taught about all the religious traditions and allowed to make up their own minds.


HB, now you know they do not teach about 'all' religions.
nono

Unfortunately Rowe, even with the most inclusive meetings I have attended, the African spiritual perspective is almost always omitted. If it is incuded it is the KeMeTic stuff(rarely), and that is usually very watered down, brief, and removed from Africa.

I studied with the Rosicrucians for a bit, and attended some UU and several Baha'i gatherings(In Cali and Texas). The blatent ommission, and then 'uncomfortableness' with African spiritualaity, and spiritual expression (when I interjected it), was beyond irritating. This was also displayed in the 'inter faith' gatherings I have attended... Not to say such a gathering and sharing of ideas isn't possible in the future.

The only places I have attended where the other participants weren't uncomfortable, frightened and/or completely ignorant of African spiritual beliefs and practices were Wiccan and Neo-Pagan gathering. And at those I felt like I and the beliefs were being 'exoticized' by the largely non-African participants.
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quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:
And at those I felt like I and the beliefs were being 'exoticized' by the largely non-African participants.---Oshun Auset

I thought you were going to say, 'On display'.

I know this is off-topic, but...

I have alwayws felt like Europeans came to our worship services to be entertained.

And that's a whole other topic.


PEACE

Jim Chester


I agree that when it is the Europeans coming to our services it is largely for entertainment purposes.

I was referring to incidents/reactions when I attended some Wiccan/Neo-Pagan gatherings. They displayed an objectifying somewhat 'over-interest' in African spirituality. The only word I can think of that can describe it is 'exoticism'. I've noticed this phenomenon at Rastafarian gatherings too.

Never-the-less it's all born out of latent racism.
quote:
Originally posted by Oshun Auset:
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
Rowe, what you're looking for is Unitarian Universalism. It is just such a "religion" ... where you might hear sermons coming from the perspective of Judaism one Sunday ... and from Hinduism the next Sunday. And religious education for the youth is similarly inclusive. Young people are taught about all the religious traditions and allowed to make up their own minds.


HB, now you know they do not teach about 'all' religions.
nono

Unfortunately Rowe, even with the most inclusive meetings I have attended, the African spiritual perspective is almost always omitted. If it is incuded it is the KeMeTic stuff(rarely), and that is usually very watered down, brief, and removed from Africa.



OA, you are correct for a number of reasons. One of which that it is practically impossible to teach "all" religions ... another of which is that some UU congregations are more open to "spirituality" than others (which might have a more secular humanistic leaning)...

However, I think you're also "wrong" ... in that my experience is that UUs wind up watering down every religion unless there are more experienced practitioners in the congregation (who serve to educate others... I've had to do that for Buddhism). This is a natural outcome of "buffet" spirituality. By serving up everything, you do nothing particularly well.

Though many UUs are anti-Christian (by way of reaction to their upbringing), it is the only religion which they know well. So when they approach another spiritual tradition they can't help but to force it into the Christian mold while trying to understand it.

I believe if there were a greater African American presence in the denomination - in particular of those who were interested in native African religions - that there would be many receptive ears in the UUA.

You are also completely correct about UU discomfort with cultural perspectives which differ greatly from that with which they are familiar. But this too stems from the fact that the UUA is so mono-cultural - even as it strives to be multi-cultural.

My experience is that if you want to lead in the UUA others will get behind you. So if you think an important perspective is under-represented then it's on you to represent it.

The UUA is not perfect. But (so far) it is the best organization that I have found to meet my spiritual needs.
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quote:
Originally posted by Oshun Auset:
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:
And at those I felt like I and the beliefs were being 'exoticized' by the largely non-African participants.---Oshun Auset

I thought you were going to say, 'On display'.

I know this is off-topic, but...

I have alwayws felt like Europeans came to our worship services to be entertained.

And that's a whole other topic.


PEACE

Jim Chester


I agree that when it is the Europeans coming to our services it is largely for entertainment purposes.

I was referring to incidents/reactions when I attended some Wiccan/Neo-Pagan gatherings. They displayed an objectifying somewhat 'over-interest' in African spirituality. The only word I can think of that can describe it is 'exoticism'. I've noticed this phenomenon at Rastafarian gatherings too.

Never-the-less it's all born out of latent racism.

I have noticed the same thing as well. I was doing some research for an encyclopedia of African American religion as was surprised by the movements such as the Kemetic Orthodox Faith and other forms of Kemetic reconstructionism. They appear to have almost exclusively adherents who are white folks.

Living in Harlem for a number of years, I was also used to seeing the tour buses roll through on Sundays. Most of the big churches accommodate/recognize the tourists. It really ticked me off when they would get up en mass in the middle of the service, to get back on their buses to go see the next site on their itineraries.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:

I went to a Catholic grammar school. Sunday mass was really boring. Fortunately it was short, only an hour.

umbra


What's a nice Vulcan like you doing in Catholic school?


Mr. Spock didn't show up until after I graduated from grammar school. Vulcans must operate on colored people's time.

umbra

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