Churches: Parts 1,2 and 3

by Sarah Luna

Today marks my third Sunday on my own in Ithaca. When I first moved into my lovely apartment, I noticed that there was a different church literally on every corner. I made up my mind right then to visit all of them until I found a church home.

Sunday #1: Immaculate Conception

My first Sunday in Ithaca I wanted to go to church to thank God for bringing me safely to NY and providing for me in my next stage of life. That’s why I went to church. I went to a Catholic church because I love my Catholic friends. I knew that each of them would be going to Catholic churches all over the nation listening to the same readings that I was listening to.

While at A&M, I would occasionally go to St. Mary’s. They have a beautiful ministry, and I’d encourage my friends still in Texas to go visit and learn more.

I guess I was hoping for the something similar here in Ithaca.

Sadly, I walked in, and immediately all of my discomfort surrounding Catholicism came flooding back. With this particular church, I felt that honoring Mary took precedence over honoring God. I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Sunday #2: First Presbyterian Church

I tried this church next because it was the one closest to my apartment. I went to preschool at a Presbyterian daycare, so the chapel felt very familiar to me. The organ music was nice (I don’t usually like the organ). I loved how the pastor called up all the children to the front and told them a parable. It reminded me of Chapel with Ms. Elaine.

I’ll probably go back to this one at some point.

Sunday #3: St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Church

Ok, so I’m not Greek, but I wanted to see if I could be Orthodox. I spent a few hours last night brushing up on my history. I learned about the Great Schism in World Civ, but I wanted to review. Basically, the Eastern and Western Churches got mad at each other for political reasons and disputed theological minutia. Each Church still recognizes the salvation of the other. Each Church believes in the transubstantiation of bread and wine in the Eucharist.

This morning…I walk in.  Dark, creepy place. Spiritually suffocating to me.  I didn’t know what was going on. Nobody knew when to sit or stand or respond. About half the congregation arrived after the homily.

I kept thinking of the book Death Comes for the Archbishop which tells the heart-wrenching story of a (Catholic) bishop trying to establish a diocese in the New Mexico Territory. I felt sad for the priest.

There was no understanding and very little respect. I won’t be going back.

Summary

I want to have a church home here.

There are four branches of Christianity: Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Coptic Church.

I’ve been raised in the Protestant mindset all my life.

I have at different times distrusted, misunderstood, admired, agreed with and disagreed with the Catholic Church.

I didn’t like the Orthodox church I attended today, but I might try attending a different Orthodox church in the future.

I have never been to a Coptic Church and would very much like to attend a service.

Next Sunday: First Baptist Church!

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