Thursday, July 19, 2012

Church as Community-for Retirees and Others

As a single semi-retired person, I find socialization and support in many forms. 

I belong to a small group of quilters that meet every week when possible. These are the same women that I meet at the pool and with whom I swim early in the morning. We share things, help each other out, go out to lunch on occasin and just chat.  I belong to two "meet-up" groups-one a dinner and a movie group and the other a dining group. Both of these groups are primarily social. I also get both support and socialization from my family near and far, and even from my former friends in Germany (most of whom I communicate with on Facebook or via email).

Any discussion of my social life or friendships would not be complete without discussing my church. Please understand that my primary purpose in going to church is to worship and study. I consider it important to do so with other people. I do not go to church just to make friends, or have a good time, for lack of a better phrase. That said, I did choose my current church because of the community and friendships it offered. For those people who have a faith or belief, I would encourage them to do the same-even if it means looking at a church further afield. Even if you are not sure about what you believe, or what you should do about that belief.

I am not one of those people who believes that we should surround ourselves with folks who live like us or even think like us. I have always lived in multiethnic, multigenerational communities and prefer it that way.  However, some times, on some level, it's good to be able to relate to people who believe what we do. It's good to be able to relate with and socialiae with people who you know will be part of this particular community for a long time. Finally, a church is a chance for you to act out beliefs while developing relationships with other people.

Many of my church activiites are not what one would necessarily consider "social activities".  I've mentioned before that once a week my church provides a meal for a shelter. This means that all day, a group of us are preparing food together, while talking and laughing. We then deliver and serve said food.  We've spent the day building a relationship, while at the came time working towards a cause that we all believe in, and "doing good" (for lack of a better phrase). Because we see each other on a regular basis, our personal relationships develop. This is just one example. I also belong to a rotating dinner group that I have mentioned before. These groups reform twice a year, meet at a different house, and are casual affairs where each person brings a dish (and oh, the cooking).

This is not a call to church. We all believe differently, and some not at all. This is just a suggestion. If you are looking for companionship and perhaps support, consider your local church. If you don't find what you need at your local church, consider looking further afield. As an Episcoplalian, there are many places I could worship. I travel almost twenty minutes to my community.

This is also not to say that one should rely on church for all friendships. A friend once joked that we were her "church friends" and I thought that was not a bad thing. I have church friends, quilting friends, some purely social friends, a few true and blue friends, family who are friends and someday soon I will probably have travel friends. All are close to me, and only a few cross many lines. However, if you find the "right" church (which may take some time), you will meet friends, develop a support system, and be part of a community.

Which is not all bad, believe me!


  1. "Community" comes in a lot of different packages doesn't it? Thanks for the reminder that church isn't just for worship.

  2. Thanks for the ideas.


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