church for an agnostic
June 9, 2011 1:47 PM   Subscribe

What denomination or popular church is best fitted for my agnostic views in pasadena, ca?

Life has handed me such a hand I find that my only options are spiritual ones now. I however am a former athiest, and now an agnostic. I am looking for a service that won't preach fables, but talk about a higher being as something ambiguous. I also live in the pasadena, ca area
posted by digdan to Religion & Philosophy (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unitarian Universalist.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:50 PM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

Sounds like you want the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church.
posted by General Tonic at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2011

Unitarian Universalism. It's probably the most secular thing you can find that is still a religion/spiritual thing.

The UUA has a handy congregation finder that should help you locate one in your area.

A word of warning, though, UU churches tend to run the gamut from more or less standard Protestant Christians all the way to highly rational and intellectual, atheistic "lecture halls." You'll likely find one that fits your needs, but it may not be the first one that you go to.

Disclosure: I consider myself a Unitarian and go to a UU church in my city. However, I am also an atheist (or agnostic, depending on my mood at the time), so I think I am probably in a similar situation to you.
posted by asnider at 1:53 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing UUs.
posted by box at 1:55 PM on June 9, 2011

Not a church, but a spiritual seeker might well find solace and connection among the Theosophists. There is a branch near you and another (a differing strain of Theosophy, and this is the one I know personally is a special place) south of downtown Los Angeles.
posted by Scram at 2:17 PM on June 9, 2011

Definitely the UUA (I am one of those rare birthright Unitarians). Non-creedal and inclusive to a fault. Another possibility is the Ethical Union, if you can find one...
posted by jim in austin at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2011

If you might have any interest in Buddhism, the Shambhala Center is nearby in Eagle Rock. Agnostics have always been welcome (at least in my experience!).
posted by scody at 2:27 PM on June 9, 2011

I came in to say Unitarian Universalist, but it looks like that's already covered.
posted by devotion+doubt at 2:43 PM on June 9, 2011

I would recommend Throop Memorial UU, rather than Neighborhood, if they're anything like they were when I was a kid. Throop was oriented towards the social activist/secular humanist side, and Neighborhood for what I still kind of think of as Presbyterianism Light. They prayed; we dissected the New Testament for internal conflicts and edited out every other male reference to deity to a feminine one in the hymnals.

Given that the next service at Neighborhood is called "Into the Heart of the Holy" and the next one at Throop is "Forgiveness and Sustainability," it seems my 11-year-old-child impressions of both congregations (from the era where they were talking about merging) aren't entirely irrelevant.

Also our building was better and it's a lot more convenient when you want to camp out before the Rose Parade.

Full disclosure: my parents were married at Throop (my dad to my mom, and later my dad to my stepmom,) I had my dedication ceremony there, I did work parties there throughout my childhood, I learned how to sleep in church while looking like you're paying attention in the front pew, and my dad and stepmom were on the development committee for years. So I might be a tad biased, even if I am an Ohio Mormon today.
posted by SMPA at 3:04 PM on June 9, 2011

You could try Orange Grove Friends Meeting. Like asnider said about UUs, Quaker meetings can vary in their tone on a spectrum from "you'll hear some words about Jesus here" to very universalist and non-Christian, so you might want to shop around. But Quakerism has no dogma or creed, and as a group we don't fret too much about God. Orange Grove has a website but I can't get it to load right now.
posted by not that girl at 3:05 PM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh and my parents met while they were both in the choir there, so pretty much the only reason I exist is that church.
posted by SMPA at 3:05 PM on June 9, 2011

SMPA: "my parents were married at Throop (my dad to my mom, and later my dad to my stepmom,)"

Woa. My dad got married to my stepmom at Neighborhood. We had no connection whatsoever to the place, and I'm not sure why it was chosen, so I can't offer much of a recommendation on that front, but ...

You might also take a look at All Saints in Pasadena. Not exactly secular but certainly not doctrinal or dogmatic. It's a much bigger outfit than the other places mentioned above (for better or worse). You should go hear George Regas (on June 12, see the link above), an excellent speaker and all-round badass.
posted by lex mercatoria at 3:32 PM on June 9, 2011

Self-Realization Fellowship is slightly more spiritual than UU but you might like it.
posted by patronuscharms at 4:43 PM on June 9, 2011

I know it's already been said a bunch of times, but I just have to chime in. I went to Neighborhood Church as an adolescent and thought it was great, and very social justice/activism oriented. Beautiful grounds, too.

Until my mom decided that the High School kids were way too "druggy" and pulled my ass outta there.
posted by Dilemma at 4:51 PM on June 9, 2011

seconding All Saints. It's extremely progressive (famously so-- was investigated by the IRS for a sermon opposing Bush and the Iraq war, and told Oprah that "being gay is a gift from God"). They have a lot of special events and you can listen to previous sermons here.
posted by acidic at 5:52 PM on June 9, 2011

Ditto on Friends Meetings (aka Quakers). There's a lot of everyone sitting around quietly, without any preaching or even talking. Also a strong emphasis on activism, especially related to peace, environmentalism and/or equality. It's pretty close to what I need, YMMV.
posted by vasi at 6:03 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a nontheist quaker. Friends meetings are generally great places for nontheists and even atheists.
posted by zug at 6:19 PM on June 9, 2011

I really like the Self Realization Fellowship in Pasadena. It was just a nice, mellow refocusing of my week. Then you can walk to Vromans afterward and browse. It makes for a nice Sunday.
posted by Vaike at 8:07 PM on June 9, 2011

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