Our Young Families Engagement group knew fairly early on that we wanted to launch something similar to what’s called Messy Church, which originated in England and has replicated all over the world. Many United Churches across Canada are doing Messy Church. We wanted to keep food central. We knew we wanted to teach what we saw were the core tenets of Christianity. We knew we wanted a time of singing and celebration.
But the term “Messy Church” didn’t sit quite right.
We also knew that Christianity carries a lot of baggage these days. Despite Canada’s holidays having a dominant Christian influence, Christianity itself is very much counter-cultural. And that’s as it should be: the movement Jesus of Nazareth began (or continued) millennia ago was a counter-cultural movement. And the forces of empire — such as excessive greed, dominance over others, or ecological destruction — are still at play. For many, the baggage of Christianity is too heavy to carry: the baby often gets thrown out with the bath water.
So we wanted to embrace the opportunity for people to unlearn what they assumed we at Castlegar United Church are about. We wanted to strip “church” back to its bare bones by asking what about a church is most important.
We foresaw it as a way to unwind because it meant at least one night without having to cook supper.
We foresaw it as a way to uncover the gems of Christianity that often get buried beneath the dirt.
We foresaw it as a way to understand how to make our own lives more peaceful for a more peace-filled world.
We wanted the word “church” in there somewhere, but we also wanted to communicate our desire to do things differently than we do on Sunday morning, and differently from how most imagine or assume we do things
And thus was born “Un-Church”.