When Larry and I married in May of 2012, we had both been out of church for many years. Both of us had given up on churches. I had tried a few different churches in the Charlotte area, but always, after a period of time, found something disappointing, something I could not support. Being disillusioned with Christian churches, I began to study other world religions including Buddhism, Sikhism, & Unitarian Universalism. I found my beliefs fell somewhere within all of those religions with my roots remaining in Christianity. I saw myself as someone who follows Jesus and tries to adhere to his teachings of compassion, generosity, and radical hospitality. There are aspects of many different religions in my belief system, but not one religion that encompasses all of them. So, for several years I had been volunteering at Hope Chapel, a chapel for the homeless in uptown Charlotte and avoiding other churches. That’s where I met Chris Ayers.
Chris Ayers, began to talk to me about Wedgewood Church and the dream of what Wedgewood Church wanted to become in the community. I listened, but honestly did not believe what he told me about Wedgewood. There could not possibly be a church that welcomed my unique and diverse beliefs. It was a couple of years before Larry and I finally visited Wedgewood Church. Chris got me there by asking me to speak about Hope Chapel.
From the first time I visited Wedgewood, I felt the warmth and sincerity of the people. It was definitely different from any church I had found.When I read the description of Wedgewood, it was exactly as Chris had told me: “Wedgewood is a liberal, culturally diverse, mission-oriented church with members who are Progressive Christians, Buddhist, Muslim, Pagan, atheist, agnostic and many other faith journeys and perspectives.”It wasn’t long before we met people holding all these different beliefs.
We were there the Sunday an atheist spoke at Wedgewood. We had finally found a church that was doing what it claimed to do, extending an “extravagant welcome to you because of your gender identification, sexual orientation, ethnicity, economic situation, physical and mental challenges, doubting or believing, being depressed or full of joy." We knew we had found our church home, a place that accepted my very diverse beliefs and Larry as an agnostic, a place that didn’t just talk but acted on the teachings of Jesus to seek justice, show compassion, generosity and radial hospitality. Now, I can not imagine being anywhere else.
Larry and I both soon became members as did my adult son and my elderly aunt. None of us had the same beliefs, but we had all found a home together. We had found a place where the power of grace moved us towards our best and truest selves, even when we didn’t know what we were looking for or what we needed. It was amazing and beautiful. What a blessing it has been for me that Wedgewood Community Church has been a part of the grace that has shaped and transformed my life and the life of my family. What a blessing to have a place like Wedgewood Community Church to continue on that journey!