Anybody's church

Jun 2012

By Doreen Marion Gee

I have not set foot in a church in years. Despite my upbringing in the traditions of the Anglican Protestant religion, I am disenchanted with some of the dictums of organized religion that fly in the face of rational thought and are a far cry from that ancient "king of kings" who doled out compassion and mercy on the streets of Jerusalem. I believe in a higher power, but I do not believe in man's skewed interpretation of what that means. Like many people, I need an oasis of pure spirituality that honours every mindset and belief system.

It was a welcome relief to find the Church of Truth - Community of Conscious Living in James Bay, a non-denominational church that accepts all points of view and ways of living and thinking.

The church's location is a little heaven-on-earth in itself! It sits nestled in the mellow lawns of picture-perfect James Bay, on the edge of the peaceful ocean and overlooking Fisherman's Wharf. Their website message is comforting: "We are a spiritual community supporting each other in exploring our personal journeys, regardless of beliefs or spiritual paths" and has a very progressive and tolerant mandate: "We are accepting of diverse expressions of belief ... we recognize that our openness to others' ideas may enhance our own awareness and expansion." The church encourages people to connect and bond with social activities and down-home fun. Service to others and making a difference in the community are core values at this spiritual haven amongst the cherry blossoms and green fields of our waterside paradise.

On the evening of April 25, the cries of gulls mixed with the smell of sea breezes as I entered the Church of Truth to attend a talk in their "Oneness Wednesdays" series. A big "Thank you" to Linda Chan for inviting me. Everyone there was friendly and warm and I felt right at home. The speaker was fantastic and her talk about 'Non-violent communication' was smart, well-researched and left me with many new valuable insights about my own behaviour when dealing with others. I was impressed; this was not toned-down fare for the average Joe. This was a high-brow, mentally challenging discussion at the level of a college course.

In May, the church did a screening and discussion of Brian Swimme's works, Journey of the Universe, The Earth's Imagination and The Power of the Universe. It is refreshing to see a church that is respectful of views that challenge the mainstream ideologies. The interesting topics for the Sunday services at the Church of Truth seem tinged with an edge of social justice. The conversations are about social integrity, communication and community service. It is uplifting to see a church that encourages critical thinking.

"It is a really nice group of people who come to our church," reflects Linda Chan. She and Pat Miller coordinate the "Oneness Wednesdays." Linda is very proud of their church, which is congregation-run; a committee decides on the themes for the Sunday Services. It is a democratic, grassroots spiritual community.

Maybe this is the wave of the future, the freedom to think outside the confines of set ideologies. Then when people come together, it is truly because of their common humanity and need for one another. Spirituality is unique for each person. But knowing that there is some power outside of ourselves unites us all. One of the mantras of the Church of Truth is "With gratitude, we live thoughtfully on the Earth with kindness and compassion for all." Isn't that what real "religion" is all about?

This is a church that I can handle!

Contacts: Web: www.cotvictoria.ca. President: Patti Huot.  

Photos by Doreen Marion Gee