Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I Learned From the Presbyterians

This post is one in a series of posts about what I have learned from the different denominations and religions that have come into my life.  There may be more than one post per denomination.

The first post was  "I'm a Christian Mutt".  
The second post was "What I Learned from the Wesleyans/Methodists"
The third post was "What I Learned from both the UCC and the Methodists"

When I moved to Albuquerque in June of 1997 I began attending a Presbyterian (PCUSA) Church.  The first time I went to a service, I found it to be a blend, stylistically, of what I had been used to as a child in the Catholic and UCC churches I grew up going to.  At this point, I can't quite remember what the specifics were that made me feel that way, but whatever they were, it was helpful in acclimating me in my return to church attendance.

What was very different, however, was that this church offered mid-week Bible study groups and Sunday school classes for adults.  I had never heard of such a thing.  In my experience, Sunday school was only for children, and I don't think I ever knew anyone who went to Bible study.  Adults went to things like choir or committee meetings.

I started going to one Bible study group and then joined another, and went to Sunday school, and then became involved in leading programs and classes and eventually ended up on staff of that church until I moved to Indiana.  In the Bible studies and Sunday School classes though, I just couldn't get enough.  I wanted to learn more and I eventually ended up deciding to minor in Religious Studies in college.  At the University of New Mexico, a Religious Studies minor had to have 18 (I think) credit hours in order to have the minor.  Because there were no particular class requirements, I took all Bible/Christianity-related classes.  I also took some from the English department as well (to this day, my "Women of the Bible" class, taught by Janet Gaines, remains one of my all-time favorite classes, and I'd love to replicate it and teach it somewhere, somehow).

It has been a long time since I went to that church, but ever since then, educating Christian adults has been very important to me.  Too often, we only concentrate on educating children with the "nice Bible stories" (like the story of Noah and the flood...perfect for children, because it has animals in it, right?) and then as adults, think we know our Bibles, when, in reality, all we know are stories we learned as children.  We never really get around to learning anything more about them.  There is so much more to know than that, and I am always impressed when I visit a church and see that educating its members is a priority.

So I give credit to the Presbyterians for infusing in me this desire and passion to learn about the Bible, in all that it means:  what it means to me today, and what it meant throughout history.

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