Saturday, July 28, 2007

New 21st-Century Religions

Who experiences new religious groups first hand and lives to tell the tale? I had such an experience the other day.

I couldn't inquire too much as the invitation to attend this service was almost out of the blue. As I experienced the service or meeting and met the people afterwards I was impressed about how similar it was to another service or meeting I had attended months ago. I couldn't put my finger on the name at the time, but it was so similar to what I was experiencing that I wanted to alert the leader of this group, a young man named Alberto, that others were handing out flyers with information that seemed almost identical to this new group's ideas. It astounded me later on to find out, that Alberto, in spite of his youth, was not only the leader of this new religious group, but was also its founder.

What I liked most was the immediate friendliness of the group I was visiting. Whenever I inquired about the name of this group I was attending I was strangely engaged in conversation, but it was such friendly conversation that I didn't care to find out their name. I'm not sure if I'd find them again; the city is so big and disorienting at night and sometimes late in the afternoon. They gave out no cards with information. They met in rooms that were half-exposed to the fresh air and always near city centers.

Much to my surprise when the service was coming to a close they asked me to say the final prayer. I was careful not to pray a typical Christian prayer as I would in my own church, but I had noted that they mentioned God in their service and no one else. The last thing I said as I closed my prayer was about how we all wanted something that made life more fulfilling and worthwhile. It felt odd not ending my prayer as I normally did, by saying "in Jesus' name." I knew that would cause divisions in such a cohesive group. So I simply ended my prayer with the word, Amen.

I will probably never find this enigmatic group of people again in spite of their warm acceptance of me and their friendly and enjoyable meeting, but at least I experienced it one time in my life.

It made me appreciate my own religious beliefs and especially the privilege and joy of ending my prayer by saying "in the name of of Jesus, Amen."

For the closest thing to this elusive group and its unbelievably friendly people, please visit the following site and/or address: Church of Religious Science,
1550 Ne 26th St, Wilton Manors, FL 33305, (954) 566-2868. This group is not as friendly as the one I attended, but it is very 21 st-Century and offers people in the community more, judging by the devotion of those who attend in numbers, than the local Adventist or Christian churches down the street.

Other links worth trying for the intrepid: New Thought Denominations, One Spirit Ministries

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