Finding the place where we belong
October 14, 2010 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Where in the United States should we live? Caveats: Looking for specific alternative churches and schools for our family.

We are interested in the emerging church movement. This means a lot of different things in a lot of different places, but the three keys for us specifically are open-mindedness, opportunities to serve, and great music. The church doesn't necessarily have to be affiliated with Emergent Village or use the "emerging" label.

The other thing we want is a Sudbury Valley school for our children. There aren't a great number of them to choose from. We'd be willing to consider a similar type of school if its focus is near enough to Sudbury's.

Are there any places in the country where these two tiny niches intersect? Extra credit if it's in New Hampshire, Washington (state, not D.C.), and/or a place with a thriving tech industry. We're posting anonymously because we'd rather it not be public knowledge that we're contemplating leaving our jobs and moving away. Thanks in advance!
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Portland, OR. Lots of friends go to alternative churches here (not sure about the music side of it) and I'm not religious so I can't give you advice about which ones.

But the school I can - The Village Free School ( Not a Sudbury school, but very much a Democratic school. We're in our 6th year and we get better and better at this free schooling/democratic thing every year.
posted by saffronwoman at 8:34 AM on October 14, 2010

I don't know how closely this church fits your needs, but my church (University Congregational UCC) had Brian MacLaren speak there last summer, is an Open and Affirming congregation, has a *strong* service mission and ethic, and utterly fabulous music -- lots of diversity of style and origin, a real focus on both musicianship and inclusiveness, yadda yadda, feel free to ask me more questions. They're in Seattle, WA.

Just outside Seattle, in the suburb I live in, is a Sudbury school: the Clearwater School.

Anyway, I don't know a lot about Clearwater, but I would be happy to answer any questions you have about either the church's theology or its music program.
posted by KathrynT at 9:05 AM on October 14, 2010

Central Connecticut (around the Hartford area) might suit you. I would recommend the Unitarian Universalist (UU) church in Manchester, CT for its open-minded community, social justice support and music. You'll be dealing with people with a wide variety of beliefs, and a liberal Christian voice would likely be welcome. (There's another UU church in Hartford, which strikes me as more conservative, and another in West Hartford, even more so.) There's also a Sudbury School in Berlin, CT.

Travel time between Manchester and Berlin is about half an hour (more with traffic on the main drag), so living in any community within that range would probably be acceptable. I'd recommend West Hartford for pleasant quality of life; I was also quite happy living in Manchester (live on the old side, though, not near the mega-mall.) I know less about CT the further west you get, and the Berlin area is on the cusp of what I don't know about.

Not sure how good the tech industry is here. It does get kind of expensive living in CT, I should probably say.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:41 AM on October 14, 2010

As a possibly-helpful data point: Ann Arbor has a new Sudbury-Valley type school, that just opened this fall. Friends have a son there are are very pleased with it so far. Ann Arbor also has a Waldorf School, which I know is not at all the same thing but I'll toss it in there for you. There is also a public "free" school in Ann Arbor; I don't know much about it, though some acquaintances have kids there and there is a lottery for spaces every year.

I don't know about specific Ann Arbor churches, sorry.
posted by not that girl at 11:27 AM on October 14, 2010

There's a Sudbury School in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge; also in Denver, my high school friend (and old-school punk rock gal) Nadia Bolz-Weber is the pastor of House for All Saints and Sinners, an emerging Lutheran church. Nadia's blog is here, and includes some clips and the transcript of her sermon in San Francisco recently at the rite of reception/reinstallation of a number of GLBTQ Lutheran clergy (to give you an idea of her theological/social approach to the church). I would be willing to bet if you email her, she'd be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

I haven't lived in Denver in 20+ years and none of my friends who are still there are in the tech industry, so I can't give you the scoop on that, but if Denver seems otherwise appealing to you, I'm sure you could do some research (or post an AskMe) on that specific front.
posted by scody at 12:10 PM on October 14, 2010

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