Building a new (church) family in Charlotte
January 7, 2013 8:35 AM   Subscribe

My family is nuts. The church I grew up in is nuts. My husband suffers from post-Southern Baptist stress disorder. Help us find a new (liberal) church home!

We have two small kids and while our religious beliefs are agnostic/questioning (in my case) to actively hostile to organized religion (in the DH's case), we want to find a church home for a few reasons. We want to build a new family that's outside the people I was born with; we want our kids to have more people that love and trust them and will watch out for them; we want to expose them to religion and God so they can make an informed decision about their own religious beliefs (or lack thereof) when they grow up.

But most churches around here are pretty socially conservative. Even the one I grew up in, which is Presbyterian and relatively socially liberal, houses a metric sh*t-ton of gay-hatin', gun-lovin', liberal-bashin' conservatives and I don't feel AT ALL welcome there any longer.

I've found all of one thread online for liberal churches in/around Charlotte and it's 5 years old. I'm hoping someone here on the hivemind has some more current/recent information.

As a bit of snowflakey detail, I'm a rather socially anxious person and the idea of going to a church where I know no one, and leaving my kids with strangers in the nursery, is kinda freaking me out. It's part of the reason I've let inertia trap me in one place for so long.
posted by tigerjade to Religion & Philosophy (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I did a search for "LGBT affirming church in Charlotte, NC" and came up with this.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:38 AM on January 7, 2013

Sounds like you might like to give the Unitarian Universalists a try. Can't really get much more liberal.
posted by bcwinters at 8:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]

Charlotte has a Unitarian Universalist Church. I don't know anything about that congregation specifically, but UU communities tend to be great places for people who come from various religious traditions to explore their beliefs and expose their children to religion in an open-minded way.
posted by decathecting at 8:39 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

United Church of Christ is fairly liberal.
posted by empath at 8:40 AM on January 7, 2013

Unitarians are generally liberal and support informed decisions about religious beliefs. The church I attended for a little while held religion classes for the kids, where they discussed many types of religions, their beliefs, etc.
posted by cooker girl at 8:41 AM on January 7, 2013

Oh, and here's the information about the UU church's children's programs. They seem to encourage parents to call up and ask questions, and they'd probably agree to meet with you before you attend for the first time, which might help quell some of your anxieties.
posted by decathecting at 8:43 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Charlotte UUs are pretty active. I'm 3 hours north and our teens have done overnight lock-ins and other projects with the Charlotte kids. Also the UUs I know who go to it have a pretty good time at SUUSI summer camp every year. One family I know that lived in Charlotte misses the UU church there because ours here skews older and is rather drama-ey.
posted by headnsouth at 8:44 AM on January 7, 2013

United Church of Christ is fairly liberal.

Yes it is. And I'm sure you know this, but just in case you don't: the UCC is an entirely different thing from the Church of Christ, which is the opposite of what you want.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:48 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might feel at home at an ELCA Church; they vary in how liberal they are so you might check out a few.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:51 AM on January 7, 2013

Just another vote for the UU church. It's a very liberal place. Be sure to make time to hang out for coffee-time after the service.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

N-thing the Unitarian Universalists, they sound great for you.

(Re the Presbyterians: if you've been attending the Presbyterian Church of America, maybe try the Presbyterian Church USA.)
posted by easily confused at 8:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I grew up Unitarian (aka UU) and your description of what you want basically is Unitarian to a T.

UCC is politically and socially very close to the Unitarians, but they are explicitly Christian, whereas the UUs are not particular about that bit.

Based on your description, I'd start with the UUs.

Honestly though, based on your description I'm surprised you would even set foot in something called a church. Your reasoning for wanting to go is good, but I might point out that there are other ways to be part of communities that doesn't involve church. For us, when our kids started in public school our non-family "family" grew very fast. YMMV, and best wishes regardless of your choice.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is a well-established Quaker Meeting in Charlotte. (Website seems to have problems, though.) I've been there, it's got great Sunday School facilities. If you don't know anything about Quakers you can read about them here. quakers ahve been at the forefront of progressive movements historically- abolition of slavery, women's rights, and more.
posted by mareli at 9:18 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

There may be a Reform Jewish congregation in your area that fits the bill, if you are open to it. It's perfectly fine and not a bit atypical to be agnostic/questioning in that community, and many Reform Jewish congregations are involved in social justice, much like the UUs.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2013

If specific Jesus-God-Holy-Spirit Lord's-Prayer Christianity is a feature, then you want the UCC. (Holy Covenant UCC, in NE Charlotte, for example.) If that's a bug, then you want the Unitarians.
posted by KathrynT at 9:34 AM on January 7, 2013

Me (a recovering Baptist with "I like your Christ but not your Christian" leanings and my boyfriend, an agnostic, have been happily attending our local Unitarian Universalist church for about a year. While there are basic tenets, each church has its own personality. Ours is uber-Liberal with a pastor who leans agnostic. Give it a shot.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 9:58 AM on January 7, 2013

I was also going to say ELCA might float your boat, but do some investigation on individual churches. The one we attended at our last home was amazing - nearly every member had come from some other faith; they were incredibly focused on caring for the world and each other; they welcomed gays and lesbians;women were I'm positions of power; decisions were largely democratic; they emphasized doing good things instead of just money. And when we needed them, they were our family when we had none nearby.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:00 AM on January 7, 2013

I know a liberal (and awesome!) pastor in Charlotte; he is United Methodist. I can't speak for his congregation, but he sermonates liberally to try to move folks along that direction. :) Memail me if you're interested.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wedgewood Baptist Church on Tyvola Road (at Wedgewood Dr, between Park Rd and South Blvd) calls itself a liberal church on its marquee. That's all I know about it, though.

The UUs run the very highly-regarded Open Door School on Sharon Amity Rd near Randolph, if church-affiliated daycare/preschool is of interest.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2013

If you're at all interested in sticking with Presbyterianism, consider Caldwell Presbyterian. They are doing some cool new things there. I grew up in the north 'burbs, so if you are on the north side I can recommend my home church, Davidson College Presbyterian. I have also heard good things throughout my life about St. Peter's Episcopal uptown and Myers Park Baptist (they are far, far from Southern Baptist). As you can see, there are a number of churches all over the place that might fit the bill. If you're comfortable saying what part of town you're in, folks may come up with more ideas.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2013

Come visit us at the UU Church of Charlotte! I've been a member there for twelve years. We're nice and friendly and extremely liberal, and we have lots of young families. (And if you like to sing, we have an awesome choir!)
posted by Daily Alice at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2013

OMG I think I love you guys! (Actually, I've had a crush on the hivemind for years now.)

We're actually up near Concord (or as we put it, 30 minutes from everywhere). So University area, Concord, Midland, H-burg (ha ha ha) are all good. Myers Park is a bit too far, as is Davidson.

My old church is PCUSA, not PCA. And the preacher we had was all about love and care for your fellows, but all you hear about from the congregation is hate and judgment and ARGGGH!
posted by tigerjade at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2013

I've not attended there personally, but I have it on solid authority that Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church is also a wonderful place, and much closer to you.
posted by Daily Alice at 12:46 PM on January 7, 2013

Ack. My first thought was to suggest PCUSA. Oops. You may just try a different congregation. The one I belong to is pretty middle-of-the-road to slightly-conservative, with the sermons being generally nondescript and uninspired (I think our pastor should move on; he has been trying to please all the people all the time for too long). I know some PCUSAs are more conservative in our area, but also that there are far more liberal congregations (we're considering checking them out).

If we decided the PCUSA was no longer for us, I'd probably look into a UU, Quaker, or Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation, or possibly United Methodist (which has the same issue as PCUSA: some congregations are very conservative and some are quite liberal).

My background is Roman Catholic; my wife grew up PCUSA, and we've been pretty united in the PCUSA since I joined her there. I am mildly Christian tending toward agnostic ("The Church of Hopeful Uncertainty" ;-)
posted by Doohickie at 2:03 PM on January 7, 2013

There's a new UU congregation forming up the road in Salisbury that also might be an option. I was surprised to learn about the liberal leanings of Myers Park Baptist that hydropsyche mentioned when it came up in a conversation at a party I was at over the weekend.
posted by pappy at 2:06 PM on January 7, 2013

Hey fellow Charlottean! My wife and I also know a pretty interesting liberal pastor, who preaches at a... wait for it... Southern Baptist church! WHAT? Crazy, I know. I get the feeling that he is much more liberal than some, but not all, of his congregation (in fact, I know he is), but what he has to say about that is pretty thoughtful. I think his church is near 485 in the Reedy Creek area.

I think the Unitarian Universalist suggestion is a good one, but if you are interested in knowing more about my suggestion, you can MeMail me.
posted by Slothrop at 5:42 PM on January 7, 2013

The United Church of Christ is generally very liberal and gay-friendly; what you'd want to look for is something (on their website, or on the sign out front) that says they are "Open and Affirming."
posted by sarcasticah at 4:49 PM on January 8, 2013

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