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home : columnists : columnists November 18, 2017

Congratulations reader, YOU are part of us

By Teri Ditslear
Joy in the Journey

It is not very often that I get "anti-fan" mail, but when I do, I want to use my keyboard to lash back at my opponent. Thankfully, I typically have an inner dialogue with my self and ignore the comments, and keep my sulking to myself. So today, because I have not had any of this type letters recently, I wanted to take the opportunity to say, if you are reading this, you do not have to agree with me. Also, when I was asked 6 years ago if I would be willing to write a "Faith-Based" column, there were no parameters set. There were no subjects that were taboo; I could write pretty much what I wanted to write as long as I was writing about faith and life. Since the only faith life that I have an exclusive to be my own, I write from my personal perspective. Also, since I see all life as sacred, everything is holy, so any topic is pretty much a-ok. Typically, I understand my self to be a Lutheran of the Evangelical Church in America or ELCA.

My personal faith life has been shaped by fifty-nine years, of being a straight white woman, the eldest of three siblings. In my faith journey I have been both divorced and widowed and now 21 years happily married to the mayor. I am also a mom, a stepmom, an aunt, and a grandmother. Late in my late 40's, I returned to school to finish my bachelor's degree from St. Mary of the Woods in Human Services. Five years ago, I graduated from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago with my M.Div. It is not clear whether or not I will continue in pursuing more degrees, but I will never stop learning.

The church community I serve now is called Roots of Life Community. We are considered a mission development. We are a grass roots community, with no membership requirement. You will hear me say on occasion, "we do not have membership, if you are with us, and you are part of us. And if you are not with us, you are still part of us." Congratulations reader, YOU are part of us. The community also hears the words, "if this is your first time here, please know that if you hear something you don't agree with, it is ok, there have been times when I have disagreed with myself." It is also encouraged to listen, like your mind could be changed, because we have lost the art of listening and hearing. We tend to start thinking of a retort before someone is finished with a thought. We do not attendance shame. We SERIOUSLY, welcome and affirm all people whatever the gender, age, ethnicity, employment, socioeconomic category, education level, sexuality etc., etc. We will not try to change you or your viewpoints concerning doctrine, biblical scholarship, or theology. We offer grace. We love to wonder, use our imagination, and question just about everything. Some people will categorize us as "Progressive". I believe we are a church that has gone backwards to become the church more like that of the vision Paul had for the first church.

It kind of cracks me up when I ask the question 'what kind of church do you go to?' And the answer is, "Oh, we go to ABC church, it is a Bible based church." Oh, ok, that clears things up. . .Not. I wonder how many Christian churches are not Bible based? Dear reader, the church that I lead is Bible based. We see Jesus as the center of scripture, and we understand that Jesus centered his vocation at the margins of society. He hung out with people who were considered less than desirable, he loved children, he was never afraid to get his hands dirty, he never shied away from calling out truth to B.S. He loved a good party; he had healthy relationships with men and women, he was betrayed, he was crucified, he was killed and he is resurrected. If we follow Jesus as a disciple, then we model our life after him. And yet, we know that it is impossible, because we are born sinners. But that does not mean that we don't try, to lead a holy life. Do you remember the lady on the Ellen Show? "I love Jesus, but I drink a little" I'm not saying she's my role model, but she might be on to something.

This week's article was just a glimpse of who I am, how this column started and just a little of what I believe. My hope is that you have found a community where you can be yourself, are given the permission to seek God in your everyday life, that you may be open to the love that God has for you and all of creation.

Noblesville's Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at pastor@rolcommunity.com, on Facebook or at www.rolcommunity.com

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