Bill of health


While spending time here, watching this ICCC gathering as an outsider, I’m thinking a lot about denominationalism. The ICCC is a post-denominational, non-hierarchical movement. They accept everyone, and everyone seems to get along.

Is this a post-denominational world? Clearly, denominations do not have the status that I hear they used to have. People reminisce about a time when being Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian meant something.

I never experienced a world in which denominations had a lot of meaning. I’m straining to think of any particular moment when I heard of a denomination as a child. When I was in second grade, I had one friend who identified herself as Episcopalian, and that seemed rather mysterious, but that was it. I vaguely thought that most mainline congregations were stiff and boring. They were, in my mind, a country club, where people thought the most important thing was to look good while going to church.

When I was in high school, I had a clearer idea of denominations, but it was made up of the notion that Methodists were Baptists who went to college, Presbyterians were Methodists who went to graduate school, and Episcopalians were Presbyterians who had done well in the stock market. None of which were compelling reasons to go to a denominational church.

I finally joined a denominational church while in Bible college. It was for three reasons: They seemed more engaged in social justice, they had women ministers, and they had traditional liturgy. I stay for pretty much the same reasons. But there’s one more now. As a pastor, there’s a support network that nondenominational pastors don’t have. We have systems of accountability and encouragement.

Of course, we could do better. A lot better. Someone commented recently on this site saying that he doesn’t have health insurance as seminary student. I was furious. Of course, my husband and I didn’t have insurance either, but ten years have passed, so I was hoping that we were doing better now. I guess not.

Why, I ask you, why don’t candidates in the PC(USA) have health insurance? Is this the case with other denominations? This is terrible news. Does anyone know how we can do something about this?


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