By Brandi Michelle:
I had a tumultuous journey with faith up until recently, and the pastor at Windermere Union Church, Barton Buchanan, helped me redefine what belief is. He has unknowingly helped me through quite a few struggles. What he teaches is kindness and love.
This little church has given me a true family of people with huge hearts and open arms. There is no judgement there. It is truly a place where people come together and help one another through their most celebrated and difficult times. There are people in the congregation from every race, cultural background, sexuality, mental and physical health and disabilities, age, political beliefs, and gender identity. And everyone smiles, hugs, and accepts one another- including all of everyone’s ideals and flaws.
At WUC, I have witnessed the sharing of not only positive ways of living, but a steady form of group counseling that has made me be more supportive and loving of all. It has helped me to change toxic thinking patterns I developed over the years.
This church has made me believe again not only in the kindness of others, but also in myself and my worth as a human on this planet. It has helped me let go of feelings of fear, shame and guilt. How on Earth is that a bad thing?
There have been welcomed guests from other faiths who have come to speak about what they practice, for example- a member of one of the local tribes who spoke about what some of the traditional Native American beliefs are, a woman from the Hindi faith who taught us what the traditional Holi represents (which the children in the church were lucky enough to experience with her by throwing colors on one another), and an inter-faith dinner with some members of the Muslim congregation at the Mosque next door.
I love it so much that this church welcomes and encourages this. Who shouldn’t be more exposed to those beliefs of others we do not know? Doesn’t that make us wiser and more loving?
Today, on Easter Sunday, the message was to resurrect ourselves. Resurrect ourselves from our own negative thoughts and patterns. Break out of our own caves to live a beautiful, kind and free life. If that message doesn’t apply to everyone in the world, religious or not, then I don’t know what does.
I leave this church each Sunday feeling lighter and happier. I make better choices and think about my actions in life more because of this church. I am a better friend and colleague because of this church. I am a better wife (to be) and mother because of this church.
I am a better person because of this church. ~Brandi