Where is a suitable congregation to fulfill my needs? John Butler has been actively seeking an answer since he moved to Hillside, N.J., five years ago to become the facilities manager of a broker-dealer company in nearby Manhattan.
The married father of Temilayo, 7, and Santi, 3, became an ELCA member 16 years ago after his Baptist mother transferred to Reformation Lutheran Church, Philadelphia. But like many people in his generation, he didn't attend church regularly after he started college and into his 20s.
But now, says John, 30, "I'm in the process of trying to find a new spiritual home. Church recharges my spiritual battery."
It's an important goal to fortify his spirit, he says, but he also wants to give his daughters structure and foundation. "The church helps you to deal with this crazy world and provides a feeling of unity," he adds. "They'll be at a loss without it."
The girls are, in fact, helping set parameters for the family's search. (Their mother, Mailissa, 28, wasn't raised with a religious tradition but would go if they find a congregation, he says.) Once a month they visit their grandmother in Philadelphia and attend the very diverse Reformation with her. They want a similar mix of people — including African American members — and youth-oriented activities in a church at home. But that hasn't been easy to find, even in the melting-pot communities surrounding New York City.
John is satisfied with the Lutheran faith, he said in his survey answers. "I will continue to seek a new Lutheran home," he says now, "and will not stop until I find one."
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers