My church….standing in the light.


I went to church today and Father John Adamski talked about love. What it means to love others, and how we can get better at it. This is a hard one for me, because I find it really easy to love others in the abstract — it’s just the people right beside me that seem incredibly annoying at times. Like when they don’t use their turn signals (an epidemic in Atlanta). Or pick up their dirty socks.

I’m also feeling really lost at sea because Father John is retiring in August – and we’ll be getting a new pastor at OLOL. I hate change. But I’m supposed to love it, too, right? I think I need enlightenment – badly!

So, I’m Catholic. A practicing Catholic. And I am therefore supposed to (required to) go to church every Sunday.

I am also (super old school here) supposed to tithe, i.e. give 10% of my income to the church. However, since I have a very modest (okay, pathetic) income and basically live off my husband, I’m just going to pretend, for the purposes of giving myself one day a week off from this blog, that I’m making a reasonable income and go from there. So every Sunday – all year long –I’m going to be giving $100 to Our Lady of Lourdes my amazing, adorable church in the heart of the Martin Luther King Jr. Landmark district in Atlanta.

Our Lady of Lourdes was founded in 1912 as an African-American Catholic community, financed by Mother Katharine Drexel – a rich Main Line, Philadelphia heiress who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and donated her fortune to serve Native American and Black people. From the steps of OLOL (no relation to LOL, kids) you can see Ebenezer Baptist Church (where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his father, grandfather, and brother all preached); and the neighborhood infuses the church’s soul.

I love OLOL so much, it’s ridiculous. It’s small, it’s mighty, it has awesome music (thanks to our Minister of Music and chair of Spelman College’s Department of Music, Dr. Kevin Johnson), and it’s got Father John Adamski – our tall, thin, challenging, intellectual, lovely priest… not to mention our affable, groovy deacon, Chester Griffin (whose beautiful wife Janis also leads the choir).  I’m not sure if you know many Catholics, but I can tell you for sure, we’re not the monolithic, homogenized, “jump to the Pope’s every proclamation” pack of lemmings that you may think. I, for one, believe that the church’s stance on birth control is socially irresponsible, morally insupportable, and just plain nuts.  But I also think the church’s position on poverty, social responsibility, gun control, the death penalty, immigration, health care, equality, civil rights, justice, peace, and charity is truly inspired.

For these reasons – and for the reasons I’ll add every Sunday that I go to church and am freshly inspired (or spiritually challenged), I’m making this my weekly tithe. And if you can find a church you love even half as much as I love Lourdes, you’ll feel blessed to support it, too. I promise.

2 thoughts on “My church….standing in the light.

  1. Hi Betty – I go to Oakhurst Baptist Church, which is to the general run of BC’s much as Our Lady is to the average RCC. I also participate as regularly as I can with Fr. John, the Soublets and others of your congregation as regularly as I can in ABLE activities. Before joining OBC I was a long time Quaker activist. I am writing you in part because we share an interest in giving (I read the AJC piece on your work). Myown giving program is probably as divierse as yours but not on as daily a basis. A recent inheritance has allowed my to give as needed (with some limitations) to local, national and international projects that help to increases human, spiritual and material assets in a variety of situations. I’d enjoy discussing this further with you if you would like to reply privately to me either at my email address above or at 770-491-6465.Note: I live about 3 mails from Oglethorpe with fairly easy MARTA access.
    Hope to hear from you.
    Vaya con Dios
    John Shippee

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