British author Lucy Broadbent writes in the U.K.'s Times on how living in Los Angeles has turned her into a churchgoer. The piece is pegged to a new report showing church attendance in England declining.
It’s not that I am especially pious. Believe me, I was mostly praying for cashmere this Christmas. As the old joke goes: Am I religious? No, I’m Church of England. But I have a confession to make: I do go to church, and not just at Christmas either. I go all the time. Even on weekdays sometimes....
St James Church, which sits at the intersection of an affluent middle-class neighbourhood, and many poorer communities in LA, is an Episcopal Church, that is the American equivalent of the Church of England. But, unlike its British cousins, it is packed because it goes out of its way to create a community in a big, sprawling city. There’s a supper club on Wednesday nights, set up with the intention of giving mums a night off, and a chance for families to make friends.
There is also an elementary school, a nursery school and a reasonably priced child-care centre for working families. Then there’s the aerobics classes in the church hall — always popular; boy scout meetings — my son won’t miss one; and a soup kitchen for the homeless. Sometimes, if you are trying to raise a family, it’s hard to stay away from the place.
At our church, it is not unusual to see children with two mums or two dads, sitting next to Koreans, African-Americans, Hispanics, as well as many white middle-class families. There are monied people from Beverly Hills, rubbing shoulders with artists from downtown. Gay people next to straight. It’s jolly, social and somehow has a relevance to everyone’s life. It reflects an acceptance of all, the kind of value I’d like my children to have. And it is a community. Spirituality, I believe, comes from acknowledging that we are part of something greater than just ourselves.
Broadbent is the author of novels "What's Love Got to Do with It?" and "A Hollywood Affair" and has been a columnist for the Independent, Marie Claire, She and Hello.