IN LOCAL NEWS

Thursday, September 20th, 2012 | Uncategorized

Hardly a week goes by when I don’t get at least five or six e-mails asking me, “What’s happening in Webster Groves, Missouri these days, Eiríkur Rauði?  Since we live in really boring places like New York, San Francisco or Ireland, we’ll probably never have the privilege of visiting the Paris of St. Louis County.  We need you to keep us up-to-date on what’s going on there so we can live vicariously through you.”

I admit that I have been lax and I apologize.  But with everything else that’s been going on the last couple of months, what with the move, problems with the Ranger, losing three crowns on my teeth and only managing to save two of them, finishing the last story and, starting Monday, something I haven’t had to do in almost 40 years, jury duty, my life has been considerably stressful lately. 

But here’s a little item that David Fischler alerted me to (I didn’t know it was online).  Seems that a Webster Groves church, one with which I am intimately familiar (I worshipped there once; they’re a half block west of where I usually work and back when I played it badly, they were in my church softball league) has decided to change its name:

What’s in a name? For the newly-branded NotAsOtherMenAre United Church of the Zeitgest in Webster Groves, Mo., a name is everything. Formerly the Evangelical UCZ of Webster Groves, the church changed its name in a ceremony Sept. 9 to better reflect its open and affirming environment and its progressive style of worship and the utter scorn, contempt, visceral loathing and pure, unadulterated hatred it has for anything within a light year of traditional Christianity.

“The name ‘Evangelical’ was a serious barrier toward our goal of not seriously believing much of anything at all,” said Pastor Katherine HawkerSelf. “We heard anecdotes that people would pull in our driveway, see the name on the sign and start to cry because they thought, ‘Oh crap.  Now I’ll have to drive all the way out to Kirkwood for my Unitarian smugness and moral superiority fix and there’s never any place to park around that place when that damned farmer’s market is open.’”

The congregation has spent the last five years debating the need for a name change, and nicknamed itself the “Other” Evangelical UCZ of Webster Groves in the meantime. While there was a clear disconnect between the church’s name and its beliefs, changing the church’s identity was still an emotional and tender process, HawkerSelf said, and it took some time to get the church’s few remaining fundie bigots to hit the bricks.

Content edited slightly.  Check out the picture at the link for some in-your-face leftism and ponder the fact that Webster Groves used to be considered a Republican stronghold.

37 Comments to IN LOCAL NEWS

Jack
September 20, 2012

“HawkerSelf?”

Christopher Johnson
September 20, 2012

I wondered about that too. I think I remember reading about a couple of references to a Hawker a while back so I’m thinking…you know.

Steve
September 20, 2012

I thought you edited her name, but it really is HawkerSelf.

Strange they don’t like the word evangelical, seeing as how the UCZ is the result of several church mergers, one of them being the Evangelical and Reformed Church. I have to wonder what this church would say to the doctrine of total depravity.

I grew up in the UCC, but never liked going. I left it for good some time ago.

The young fogey
September 20, 2012

What they did is understandable – mainliners and Evangelicals are different! – but of course you’re right.

(Funny how many meanings the word Evangelical has, from conservative American Protestants to their cousins still part of the Church of England to the German word meaning Lutheran, but the German church like the English is mainline liberal.)

My beautiful (Victorian houses and big trees) 100-year-old town used to be a Republican stronghold too (‘reactionary’, an old local described it to me), back when mainliners were Republicans and Republicans were fine fellows like Alf Landon and Bob Taft. Now it’s SWPLsville (Archbishop Morse: Calvinism shatters into Unitarianism, or look what’s happened to the descendants of the Pilgrims!). The flagship mainline church on its Main Street (gorgeous Gothic seemingly lifted from the British countryside) flies the gay flag and has a lady pastor. (I have no idea how many people go there. By the way it’s not Episcopal. Having one of the town’s original churches, they closed here a few years ago.) There you go. Living off the capital of a better past. Still a great place to live, with the remaining benefit of nice (the town’s officially ‘no place for hate’, as if the government could police your emotions) WASP culture, but the rot has set in.

Because the UCC/UCZ is Congregationalist, I understand there are a few relatively conservative churches in it that still believe the denomination’s orthodoxy on paper. (I guess most mainline ministers are really unitarian but until they vote out the creeds, they’re still nominally Christian.)

By the way the Catholic parish church here is doing pretty well, with one of the town’s original churches not wreckovated too badly and slowly getting the benefit of Pope Benedict’s restoration thanks to a conservative resident priest, but with residual ’70s garbage like layfolk giving out Communion. The diocese used to be called ‘conservative’ but it was really just complacent and parochial, again living off past capital the church earned before the Vatican II débàcle. White ethnic cultural Catholicism, once dominant here back East, is dying here as in most places: church and school closings are common. (Assimilation into the larger ex-Protestant culture + Vatican II self-destruction + fewer kids = next to no vocations anymore.) I belong to a parish nearby with a weekly Tridentine (commonly called Latin) Mass. (Young traditionalist families with relatively lots of kids but trads are a minority in American Catholicism.)

Fuinseoig
September 20, 2012

I’m astounded that you changed so little of the original, Christopher. I thought “HawkerSelf” was some kind of parody but nope, that’s her real name. Is she a partnered person with a conjoined name, or is this her own idea?

And I was sure the bit about people crying in the driveway was a joke, but nope again – apparently it was so. Well, I’d probably start crying too, if I arrived expecting a church and saw this building instead.

When they don’t even know that you don’t “baptise” a church, you consecrate it… what more needs to be said?

Katherine
September 20, 2012

Since they dropped the icky “evangelical” it’s surprising they kept the “Christ.” That list of attributes at the top of their sign would make me cry and leave. But then, they don’t want to be inclusive of people like me.

HawkerSelf occasionally writes commentary for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This one, about Trayvon Martin, lets me know that you could go to Peace UCC if you wanted to be lectured about “America’s vicious endless cycle of racism from the seat of white privilege.” According to the church website, she has a spouse, Darlene, so perhaps the name may be a combination.

Allen Lewis
September 20, 2012

How twee!

Duane
September 20, 2012

I like the link at the bottom to an article where the old fraud Spong says “UCC is doing something right.” If Spong agrees with you, it’s time to do some rethinking…

The young fogey
September 20, 2012

Katherine, if/when they vote away trinitarianism, like the Mormons they’ll keep ‘Christ’ in their talk (and in the UCC’s case, their name, just like the Mormons), and still claim to be Christians, and most people won’t know better.

Daniel Muller
September 20, 2012

Wow. That tacked-up sign and banner just reek of desperation … and a certain absence of the target audience.

In January, the church presented a six-week opportunity for each congregation member to suggest a name on the community bulletin board. After collecting about 80 names

Each regularly attending, erm, participant got to submit ten names?

Old radicalized Christian churches never die, they just …

dwstroudmd+
September 20, 2012

Christopher, this is Johnson’s Law in fulfillment totalis. I honestly thought it was a Onion-esque spoof until I clicked on the links.

Da-ummmmmmm.

You are so good, you’re bad.

I suspect you have a Palantir hidden somewhere.

Geosez
September 20, 2012

She really thought people were crying in the driveway. Sheesh. On a related note, as we wander around this region, we’re keeping a mental account of all the churches we see with names like “Peace” or “Faith Creek” (really!) then in little letters underneath “a United Methodist congregation” or “a Southern Baptist congregation”, etc.

Zach Frey
September 20, 2012

Johnson’s Iron Law strikes again!

I, too, thought “HawkerSelf” must have been your satiric genius at work. But no… the reality is self-parodying.

Therese Z
September 20, 2012

How did she get the capital into the middle of her name, like she was software?

I suspect she was Hawkerman or Hawkermann and made it HawkerSelf. No way that’s original.

Katherine
September 20, 2012

Therese Z, if you legally change your name you can do anything you want, as witness basketball player Metta World Peace. I assumed that it was the union of Katy Hawker and Darlene Self, but your idea is even more amusing.

Katherine
September 20, 2012

By the way, is gay marriage legal in Missouri? If not, Darlene isn’t legally her spouse.

harry in St Charles
September 20, 2012

As I said last week,Winston(John)Smith has worked hard in his cubicle to change the
focus to Mitt.Last week is slowly
going down the memory hole.

Christopher Johnson
September 20, 2012

Nope, no gay marriage here. Not that the leftist churches would care.

Mike
September 20, 2012

Love the banner: New Name! Same Values!

Now with more real cola taste! And those “anecdotes we heard” about people crying? Sounds like truthiness is being stretched to score points with a target audience that loves to be lied to.

The Little Myrmidon
September 20, 2012

I really thought HawkerSelf was part of the “edited” content. Then I read the article at the link.

This is just too, too precious.

Fuinseoig
September 20, 2012

Therese Z, it would appear that “HawkerSelf” is the joint partnered names of herself and her partner, Darla. The kind of double-barrelled surnames that would usually be expressed as “Hawker-Self” but hyphens must be part of the heternormative oppression conspiracy or something.

It’s terrible of me, and lacking in charity to our same-sex attracted brothers and sisters, but I can’t help wondering: do they ask for their post to be addressed to the “HawkerSelfs” or the “HawkerSelves”?

Therese Z
September 20, 2012

Hawkenspits.

Now they aren’t even hyphenating? We’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing “Hawker-Self” as a coupletag.

I wonder how they decided who got to be first? Why not “SelfHawker?” I can just picture the hours of earnest discussions, with herbal tea and foot rubs, crying and agreement about the evils of patriarchy. Maybe they reverse it around every couple of years to be fair?

Katherine
September 20, 2012

Perhaps “SelfHawker” sounded a bit too commercial.

FW Ken
September 20, 2012

This congregation appears to be incredibly self-absorbed, what with spending five years worrying about their name.

And who cries when they see “Evangelical” in the name of a church? I might cry if, as an evangelical, I were lured into the place.

Elaine S.
September 20, 2012

“is gay marriage legal in Missouri? If not, Darlene isn’t legally her spouse.”

They might have taken a short drive across the river to Illinois, which has civil unions, or possibly to Iowa, where gay marriage was instituted by judicial fiat a couple of years ago IIRC.

Bill2
September 20, 2012

We heard anecdotes that people would pull in our driveway, see the name on the sign and start to cry

Really? People crying because they see the word “Evangelical” in the name? The 15 rainbow flags they have flying all over the place wan’t enough to convince you it’s “open and affirming” enough for you?

What a bunch of drama queen flakes. I bet there’s not a cross to be found in the joint either.

Steve
September 20, 2012

There was a Lutheran church (ELCA of course) here in Kansas City that either closed its doors or moved. They had a rainbow fish on their sign. The building is now used by Buddhists. I suppose that’s appropriate.

And speaking of signs, there’s a United Methodist Church near work, and the upcoming sermon is “Fire Prevention.” They also invite you to come walk their labyrinth.

C. Wingate
September 20, 2012

The real reason it was named “evangelical” was because this was Ground Zero for the old Evangelical Synod of North America, the German Lutheran/Reformed group whose Eden Theological Seminary in the same town cranked out both Niebuhrs and Walter Brueggemann before falling into the UCC vortex. That was back in the days when “evangelical” did not mean “baptist but not Baptist”, of course.

labarum
September 20, 2012

The UCC exists solely for the purpose of letting Episcopalians know it could get worse.

Muerk
September 20, 2012

I too thought HawkerSelf was a parody, I was also genuinely surprised that the crying in the driveway because the church had “Evangelical” in its name was not a Chris addition.

Rondon
September 20, 2012

Haaaaaaaaaaaaawkerself!……Gesundheit!!!!

LaVallette
September 21, 2012

After all the reason for the existence of the Christian Church is to “rub people’s tummies” the right peaceful way!!!!! See Matthew 10, 34-39

Fuinseoig
September 21, 2012

Yeah, Muerk, it looks like we’re going to need an addition or corollary to Johnson’s Law: No matter how far-out your parody, you will discover that someone has already tried it for real.

:-)

Upstate
September 21, 2012

siege mentality–they can’t handle the fact that Romney’s leading in the Show-Me state.

I too thought the “HawkerSelf” was our MCJ editor’s flair at work. yikes!

Daniel Muller
September 21, 2012

there’s a United Methodist Church near work, and the upcoming sermon is “Fire Prevention.”

Actually, I think that a little Christian fire prevention is a very good thing from time to time. Catholics generally refer to it as confession.

Elaine S.
September 21, 2012

“Fire Prevention” could be the title of an old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone sermon, but at a UMC church, probably not.

FW Ken
September 21, 2012

Don’t sell the Methodists short, Elaine. I’ve known some who preach a real Wesleyan gospel.

Support The MCJ

Search

Links

Meta