Choosing a Church

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Raised Catholic, looking at other churches, help us choose

Feb 2005

We moved 4 months ago to a place that is not close to our old friends and we are having trouble finding a situation where we meet new ones. I'm a SAHM and my husband works full time. I have been having a yearning that I want to be part of a community and can't figure out how to go about it.

We were both raised in the same religion (Catholic) and don't have a strong attachment to it. We are thinking that we might like to be part of a church and therefore make friends in a like minded, family oriented community.

My request for advise is this:

1. if you changed religions from the one you were born into, how did you go about choosing?
2. why do you like your religion?
3. is there fellowship (volunteer activities, cake & coffee in the basement after service, weekend get togethers, etc)
4. is the ''message'' of the church one that promotes peace for all, being a good person, etc? I have a really hard time with Catholic things like woman aren't equal (can't be priests) and that couple's have to go to classes for marriage advise from someone who has never been married, birth control, etc. The message needs to be universal for all for me to believe and support it

If you have found a place like this other than at a church, please comment as well. We have a 20 mth old and know we will meet other families once he starts school but I don't want to wait another 2 years before I have a friend. I have done the playground thing but find its hit and miss of people showing up on regular days.
Thanks for your advice and for sharing something that is so personal. DiAnn


  • Church Without Walls Berkeley
  • New Spirit Community Church Berkeley
  • Orinda Community Church
  • St John's Episcopal Church Montclair
  • Unitarian Universalist Churches

    We want to go back to church, but which one?

    August 1999

    My husband and I are interested in getting back into a church and are hoping that other families have some guidance on this process. I was raised a Catholic, got married in the church (unfortnately that was to my first husband) and subsequently have not been in a church in years. My husband attended non-denominational churches growing up in a military family. He hasn't been to church since high school. We are both very spiritual people and would like to more formally celebrate that aspect as a family and as part of a congregation. The problem is we're not sure how to start. How does one 'pick' a new religion or a new church. We're familiar with different philosophies and think that a Unitarian church may be the place for us. We'd like specific input on churches in the North Oakland area and any general comments that people may have. Thanks.

    I think the way to choose a church is to visit and see if you like the people and services. For me, the most important thing would be to ask myself after visiting one place a number of times, Do I find that I'm growing spiritually in this congregation? Is it a place where I sense that others are also growing/ interested in growing and applying the principles to daily life? Is the material that is presented helping me to live a more balanced life, and helping me to relate more positively/compassionately to others? I guess choosing a church is simply defining what you want from a church experience and then searching til you find it. If you haven't been in a church for years, it might be a good idea to sample a wide variety since things have changed dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years in many denominations.
    See also recommendations for Catholic Churches
    A neat resource out there for considering church options is the Alpha program. It's a place for beginning (=Alpha) to check out a church, and especially for raising and honestly discussing religious questions with people who go to the particular church that's hosting it. The place that I know about that's hosting Alpha starting in September is First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley (the church that houses Cornerstone Children's Center). Their phone is 848-6242.

    I also managed to dig up a couple of other places that are doing it. In North Oakland there's Park Boulevard Presbyterian. The other two in Berkeley are Berkeley Covenant Church and the Association of Vineyard Churches. A couple of Episcopalian* ones are St. Alban's in Albany, and St. Paul's Episcopal in Walnut Creek (925-934-2324 between 9:00 A.M. and 3:30 P.M.) *A lot of the couples I know where one was raised Catholic, and the other was raised Protestant, go to Episcopal church. Good luck!