Individual spirituality is extremely important to me, and yet there is something unique about experiencing spirituality in a community. One of the benefits I find in community spirituality is developing a common language and understanding of that experience. This, in turn, provides a cohesiveness in the community, similar to being a member of an extended family in which everyone knows the family stories or the commonly understood meaning of certain words or phrases. I find this cohesiveness not only supports and encourages the community as a whole, but it also supports and encourages me as I seek out and find meaning in my individual spirituality.
In particular, I find in MCC a place where diverse beliefs are respected, as expressed in the MCC Statement of Faith, which says, “We don’t all believe exactly the same things. And yet in the midst of our diversity, we build community, grounded in God’s radically inclusive love for all people.” I also belong to the MCC faith community because it has the ability to challenge and expose cultural oppression and uproot social injustices. It is not a coincidence that civil rights and liberation movements came out of strong faith communities—from the Black churches in North America and South Africa, to the leaders of faith communities in the Central and South American countries experiencing crushing dictatorships.
I find in MCC a place where diverse beliefs are respected…. I also belong to the MCC faith community because it has the ability to challenge and expose cultural oppression and uproot social injustices.
Faith communities also are essential to the larger community in providing ministries involving food and clothing pantries, cooked meals, homeless shelters, educational opportunities, and other types of community assistance programs. In addition, a faith community supports me in “staying the course” with my individual spirituality and I can turn to the community members to provide encouragement when I begin to feel spiritually lost or have a sense of hopelessness. I also experience spirituality in ways that are only found in community—with liturgies, ceremonies, music, singing, all of which creates an energy that only comes from being together as a group.
Finally, I experience a distinct spiritual energy that is created only through community worship—it is being in the presence of everyone’s deep desire to be in the presence of the Holy, which creates a healing and comforting environment, that I can tap into, to sustain me on my individual spiritual journey.
ABOUT THIS MCC AUTHOR: Elder Nancy G. Maxwell has been attending MCC churches since 1990. She served as a Lay Elder (Bishop) on the MCC Council of Elders from 2015-2020 and she currently co-coordinates the MCC lay leader certificate program, Laity Empowered for Active Discipleship (LEAD). She attended the Moderator’s Leadership Mentoring Retreat, stood for election to the Governing Board in 2010, is a certified facilitator for Creating a Life that Matters, completed her LEAD certificate in 2013, received her certificate as a Spiritual Director from Columbia Theological Seminary and is completing the Pacific School of Religion’s Certificate of Theological Education for Leadership (CTEL). Nancy resides with her spouse, Ana Ester, in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil.