I am one of the lucky ones and am able to be honest about my beliefs in the congregation I serve, a congregation of The United Church of Canada.
I have served West Hill, www.westhill.net, for fifteen years. About three years into my ministry there, I was awakened to the reality that many of my congregants had not assimilated the progressive “metaphorical” understandings of Christianity that I had been exposed to throughout my life, had reinforced and strengthened in my theological training, and shared with them through my sermons. The reason was the archaic symbols and language integral to everything else that wrapped the sermon in the rest of the service. Recognizing the duplicity at the core of my leadership should I continue to allow Christian language and terminology to be understood one way by me and another by the people in the pews, I realized I could no longer lead the congregation. So I shared my struggle with by Board who, to my surprise, became excited about the prospect of journeying in a new direction. And we headed out into uncharted territory.
John serves on TCP's Board of Directors, as Chair of the Communications Committee, and as a member of the Screening Committee.
Early in the summer of 1982 prior to my beginning seminary in the fall, I was appointed as a licensed local pastor to a part time pastorate in a small town congregation. My first year of seminary completely stripped away my naïve faith and provided nothing to take its place except skepticism and doubt. I didn’t become an atheist at that point, but I did reject much of Christianity. I came to believe that the divine incarnation and resurrection of Jesus were crass fabrications. I could no longer fool myself into believing in anything supernatural. While cognitive dissonance prevented me from pushing the envelope too far and fully working out in detail what I did and did not believe, whatever was left of my belief in God was pretty far away from a traditional position. I gravitated toward Joseph Campbell’s writings on myth and a sort of a Jungian, metaphorical understanding of God.