Help me find a vibrant Protestant church in the Cleveland area. I'm between denominations.
October 11, 2009 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a vibrant Protestant church in the Cleveland area. I'm between denominations.

I love the idea of going to church, but I've yet to find one where I feel comfortable coming week after week. Maybe you know the denomination I'm looking for.

I presently go to children's weekday Mass at a wonderful little Catholic church. I love it for the following reasons
+ The sermons are wonderful. We always learn about a Saint or a story about Jesus, and then the Priest helps us understand how to apply the lessons to daily life.
+ We all sing together. 100 school children, their teachers and many grandparents sing a simple song every week. Last year it was "we are made for service".
+ There is a fantastic sense of community. I know everyone. Everyone knows me. When we pass the peace, we mean it.
+ We all pray together.
+ I leave feeling refreshed and inspired to be a good person, with very clear directions about where a good person should head this week

However, I am not Catholic for all of the reasons that Protestants usually state. I'd like to find a church where I can take communion. I've tried the following... and had the following problems.
- Going to my parents Presbyterian church. It's mainly blue-hairs. I feel lonely during coffee hour. Everyone who talks to me pretty much just asks how old I am now, and tells me how much I've grown.
- Going to a Unitarian service. It seems to be more of a theological class than a worship service. We didn't pray.
- Going to a born again nondenominational church. We sang and prayed for a half hour, which was AWESOME..... but then the sermon would invariably be a half-hour pro-life rampage and during coffee hour teenagers would pass around petitions to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
- Going to a Non-denominational Contemporary church. Very vibrant, but the service lasted for hours. I had to leave because I was faint with hunger....and my ears rang all day from the excessive volume.
- Not going to Church for years. It leaves me with an emptiness... a yearning.
- Going to a Lutheran church. I felt bored and couldn't sit still.
- Going to a different Presbyterian Church. Great sermon.... but we're given about 5 seconds to 'privately confess our sins' before being forgiven. I find myself both too hurried to reflect, and bored after the sermon. Also, just a handful of adults under 40.

The issue is rather pressing because I'd like my son to have Sunday school experiences. I'd like to find a church (in or near Cleveland) with the following qualities, where I can settle down . . .
+ Young people. I'm in my late 20's and would like to be part of a community that includes a substantial number of adults under 50. Other families with kids would be great. People in their 20's and 30's would be awesome!
+ Protestant denomination
+ a sense of community
+ reasonable amounts of singing
+ prayer
+ sermons that teach about Jesus, God, the Bible and how to be a good person
+ vibrant worship (as opposed to the soul-stifling sound of an entire congregation boredly reciting 'Alleluia' and 'it is right to give thanks and praise in unison)
posted by debbie_ann to Religion & Philosophy (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I know this is complicated. If you could even offer advice on how to start looking, or share a similar experience, that would be very helpful. Thank you.
posted by debbie_ann at 4:43 PM on October 11, 2009

When I was a teenager, I went to West Shore UU a few times, and pretty much loved it. That was a long time ago, but, if you're into the UU thing, it's definitely worth a visit.
posted by box at 4:47 PM on October 11, 2009

Where in cleveland are you? It sounds like you are looking for a church with lots of children's activities, sometimes these can be found by those that also have a grade school attached. Some larger churches try to accommodate both young and old with traditional services early and more family-oriented services later. The church where I was baptized, Royal Redeemer Lutheran in N. Royalton, sounds like something you may enjoy. I'm sure there's a website, but the browser's being funny.
posted by greatalleycat at 4:49 PM on October 11, 2009

Or, way the heck in the other direction, St. Sergius Russian Orthodox Cathedral is a beautiful, beautiful building, but probably not what you're looking for.
posted by box at 4:49 PM on October 11, 2009

I'm in Cleveland, by Tremont & the zoo.
posted by debbie_ann at 4:58 PM on October 11, 2009

I've never attended services at Trinity Episcopal Church in Cleveland, but I've always wanted to go once in a while, and I've walked the canvas replica of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth they roll out on Tuesday nights. Evidently they have a permanent Cretan labyrinth now as well, which I need to check out. It's a great meditative experience.

I've read some of their sermons online, and they're friendly, lacking in brimstone, and carry a message of compassion for all and social and environmental concern that I've rarely, if ever, seen. And they have a "Green Team". And a Yahoo Group.

It's a beautiful church, and its philosophy is special as well. Homeless people are allowed to hang out and play cards and talk and such on the premises, maybe not always inside, but under the awnings and such. Community groups and twelve-step programs always seem to be using the church. You can just walk right into the cathedral and sit, meditate, or pray anytime that there's not a worship service, at least during the day (I don't know if they lock up at night). It's obviously a very community-oriented place.

They have a new (and female) reverend now (who lives with a female partner), so I don't know if they still do the special Earth Day sermon that I read by the old reverend, but they probably do, and the last fellow did a wonderful job. The minister and community seem very progressive, open, and warm.

I can't say if it'll fit you the way you want, but chances are you'll enjoy giving it a try. It seems surprisingly, bizarrely cool to me. I'm looking forward to attending a service there someday soon.
posted by Shane at 4:59 PM on October 11, 2009

You could try Pilgrim Congregational Church at West 14th and Starkweather in Tremont. I'm not a churchgoer, but I know that they're an up and coming church and they support the local arts community like mad.
posted by starvingartist at 5:53 PM on October 11, 2009

I second checking out Pilgrim. My uncle is a member there and it has been really wonderful for him. From the little I know (all from him), it has a very strong sense of community and that community seems to be quite diverse. And, from what I know of him, I don't think he would have made the attachment to the church that he did if it didn't look at spirituality as a whole. Which fits with my own experience in a different UCC church - yes, there's a lot about Jesus & God, but also about being a good person and exploring both what that means and how to be one. So it's not just bible lessons and listening some old guy speak at you for a half an hour once a week.
posted by imbri at 7:37 PM on October 11, 2009

Church hop some more!

You mention that you enjoyed the 'born again' non denominational church service style, but not the content of the sermons. Is this perhaps a one off Sunday? Could you go again and see?

What about other kinds of churches in the same vein? (It's easier when they've got a denomination label attached to them, to try different Baptist, or whatever, churches.) I go to a Baptist church, but I realise that means different things from Australia to Cleveland!

Jesus was all about community, so a good church is one that you go to and feel really welcomed, I find.
posted by titanium_geek at 1:05 AM on October 12, 2009

The 'born again' church had the same sermon every week for several months. Maybe I always come on the wrong day but I've heard the same sermon at several places.

Church hopping is a great idea! These suggestions will surely help me streamline the process!
posted by debbie_ann at 3:42 AM on October 12, 2009

Nthing that you should try out a UCC church or two. I'm not religious, but I am friends with a couple of UCC ministers -- both youngish, liberal-minded women. Seems like a good fit to at least some of your requirements.
posted by jon1270 at 5:54 AM on October 12, 2009

We went to Trinity Cathedral this morning. Beautiful building, great sermon, lots of little kids, great ministry (free flu shots) The closing hymn was "this little light of mine" : )

I'm going to keep looking for a louder singing congregation.
posted by debbie_ann at 7:45 AM on October 18, 2009

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