Tired of fear-based, ‘organized religion’? Us too!!” reads the calling card of a new spiritual community here in Racine. This group of more than 50 worshippers of all ages is known as the Sacred Journeys Spiritual Community and together they have formed an inclusive, progressive Christian community which exists to honor and encourage each person’s spiritual journey with God.
“We are a group of people who want to keep growing and exploring their spiritual and religious knowledge,” said the Rev. Kaye Glennon, pastor of the community.
Their vision of God is one of love and social justice, Glennon said. And while they take the Bible seriously, they don’t take it literally.
“We are people with a real hunger for a new perspective on the Christian faith,” she said.
Having served as pastor at Franksville United Methodist Church for nine years, Glennon was asked to lead the new community by former members of the Franksville church who found the teachings of the United Methodist Church too confining. While FUM had been more progressive than some other United Methodist churches, some felt is was still too limiting, particularly when it came to who and what people could be and still be accepted, Glennon said.
The pastor, who was on sabbatical from the church when the group approached her, said she felt maybe this was what God wanted her to do next. Having left the Franksville church in December 2010, she decided to leave the United Methodist Church altogether the following summer.
The folks who came to see her had an openness about exploring questions of theology that Glennon shared. And, after meeting with them, she said, “I knew they had the determination and strength to give it a good shot.”
As spiritual leader of the Sacred Journeys community, Glennon said she wants to share her experience and knowledge in areas such as how to study scriptures.
“I was given the tools to find the answers within me, and I think that’s what I’m trying to give others,” she said. “I want to encourage people to look inside — that’s how we understand God and grow spiritually. And I’m passionate for people to understand how fulfilling that is.”
For Scott Mandernack and his wife, Marilyn, Sacred Journeys is the progressive Christian community they’d been looking for since leaving their home and church in Indiana two years ago and moving to Franksville.
“We believe that Jesus calls us to be living our faith in everything we do,” Mandernack said. “And Kaye’s messages are right on target with our beliefs. It’s been a good fit for us.”
The spiritual community’s mission to be involved in the wider community is something that is especially important to Mandernack, and he appreciates the fact that everyone involved in Sacred Journeys seems to have a desire to be a part of that mission.
“We’re just getting started in figuring out how we can contribute in terms of social justice,” he said. “We’re looking to identify how we can make a difference, and there is a real excitement about it.”
“Spiritual Journeys is a good group of people who want to do good things,” said Julie Hunley, who has been attending worship services with her two daughters. Hunley — who has been involved with a number of churches throughout Wisconsin — said her decision to leave a congregation that had more traditional structure and support was not a simple one. As a mother, she had some concerns about attending church in nontraditional settings such as Roma Lodge, where the community met until its recent move to Meadowbrook Country Club.
“I wondered it if would seem like church, to my daughters, at Roma Lodge.”
As it turns out, she and her children have felt comfortable at both locations. “It has been a really positive thing,” she said. “Kaye’s sermons are quite accessible and there is always a positive message. It’s important to me that my kids know that they have a pastor and a community that supports them in their spiritual journey.”
It is also important to Hunley that her family be part of a community where people of all races and sexual orientations be welcomed and affirmed. “We want to be a point of healing for people who otherwise feel disenfranchised or hurt by their home church or families.”
She, too, feels strongly about Sacred Journeys’ commitment to social justice issues and says it is actually very liberating to be able to explore and choose those options without having to go through the formal processes of approval of a larger church.
Most Sundays, Sacred Journeys worship services draw between 55 and 60 people, and they have seen more new faces recently, including families with young children. Glennon said.
The community’s worship services are similar in structure to those of many Protestant churches, Hunley said. The noticeable differences are things such as the use of inclusive language in some of the liturgy and the mix of both traditional and less-conventional music, played by a group of guitarists, rather than on an organ.
“I don’t think we grow if we only stay with what we’ve always known,” Hunley said.
As the community develops, Glennon said she hopes to invite different speakers from various religious and spiritual communities to take part in services. She has already incorporated other forms of writing, including poems and various readings in the service.
“God speaks to us in all kinds of different ways,” the pastor said.
In addition to weekly worship services and Sunday School, Sacred Journeys offers a women’s spirituality group, a monthly Theology on Tap gathering and a social justice ministry. And those are just the beginnings of what Glennon and the congregation hope to accomplish as they grow.
“I have been impressed with the energy and commitment of the people in the congregation,” said Glennon. “Someone comes up with an idea they want to try, and everyone wants to work to make it happen.”
If You Go:
WHAT: Sacred Journeys Spiritual Community
WHEN: Weekly worship at 10 a.m. Sundays; Sunday school for kids and adults 9 to 9:45 a.m. Christmas eve service at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Meadowbrook Country Club, 2149 N. Green Bay Road
INFO: Go to www.sacredjourneyssc.wordpress.com or check out Sacred Journeys on Facebook
Sacred Journeys Spiritual Community envisions a community:
* Which strives to emulate the radical hospitality and love of Jesus. We support the full inclusion and participation of all persons in the life and ministry of the church regardless of age, race, gender identity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, family formation or ethnicity.
* That thinks outside of the box, is willing to learn from other faith traditions, is open to different styles of worship, and looks for new possibilities and potentials for ministry.
* Where everyone is encouraged to ask questions, and to struggle with the challenges of faith and religion.
* That is active in service, mission and social justice.
* That understands that God is love, that grace is unbounded, and that each person is created beautifully in the image of the Creator.
* Where each person can be supported in becoming the person God created them to be.
Correction: In December 2010, the Rev. Kaye Glennon applied to the Wisconsin Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church for a sabbatical leave, which was to take place from June 2011 to June 2012. She left Franksville United Methodist Church in June of 2011, and also resigned from the larger UMC that month. This sequence of events was reported incorrectly in this story.