Is "THE Judson" a church?
Judson is host to so many secular events in arts, culture, and activism throughout the year that this is actually one of the most frequent questions we hear. The answer is simple: Yes. Judson is an active and vibrant church with a growing congregation. Services are held each Sunday at 11a.m. Often folks with this question are attending or participating in an event they wouldn’t expect to take place in a church, and view the unconditional welcome with healthy skepticism. Judson has a rich history of providing inclusive uncensored space to the community, and a strong commitment to free speech. That’s it. There’s no other shoe to drop. No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.
Is it: Unitarian, Interfaith, Secular?
Nope. It’s a good ol' fashioned protestant congregation. Judson is tri-affiliated with the United Church of Christ, American Baptist Church, and the Alliance of Baptists. The result is one heck of a denominational fruitcake ;). The Judson congregation celebrates the classic occasions of the liturgical calendar with worship services that are both openly earnest and imaginatively irreverent. Our building also provides comfortable space for groups from a wide range of faith practices to host events and services. While this has an aspect of universality, Judson asserts that this is exactly the kind of broad spiritual concern Christian practice not only calls for, but is enriched by.
Okay then, how about this: Is there a God? What happens after I die?
These are profound mysteries and tough questions. We like both and don’t try to simplify the answers. Instead of defining, we discuss. Our members’ perspectives range from stoic rational materialist to curious agnostics to folks with unshakable faith, and everything in between. Together, we bring diverse viewpoints to the theology deeply imbued in our politics, cultural traditions, and legal system with an engaged mutual respect (and have fun doing it). We still hang with the potlucks, sing-alongs, and walk-on-water miracles. We’re not sure what happens when we pass on, but we create community that might tell our stories after we’re gone.
Well, if you're so down, why not just go to the bar, or community center, or museum, or theater, or whatevs?
We think you should go to all of those other places. We don’t want to take up your whole life.
We also believe that what makes church a unique institution is the fact that, if we’re doing it right, it holds us accountable to a community, regularly ritualizes a reality we wish to see in the world, and is always a safe space to be our messy selves (all while pursuing justice and enjoying art).
Other places don’t always make these promises. We do.
So you all are re-imagining church as this cool thing and working from the inside, all crafty?
Not really, though that's often a starting place for some folks, especially those who have been annoyed or downright harmed by religious institutions. Judson is healing for many, and our irreverence really helps along the way. Judson takes faith seriously, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Our ministers are scholars with a sense of humor and our congregants are equally well-versed in scripture and sass. Judson has faced considerable societal and legal challenges over the years for taking groundbreaking and impassioned stands for the rights of women, immigrants, workers, drug users, the LGBTQ community, and freedom of expression. Usually it's not enough to show up with a lawyer and say "Hey, Your Honor, we're re-imagining Christianity.” But we know our stuff so we can play with that stuff. Judson runs faster, throws farther, and forever fights outside its weight class. We do it with our brains turned on, our tongues in our cheeks, and our hearts in the right place.
Alright then, how about.....
Hold on. A question for you: What kind of church have you always wanted to exist, and what energies can you bring to manifest it? We're excited to grow by giving witness to your own answers to life's toughest questions. You can walk into any church and instantly get involved, receive support, and have influence. The difference here is that you can do so with complete spiritual and intellectual honesty, exactly as you are. While this can sound hyper-progressive it's important to understand that there are strong traditional views with the community as well. One thing you can count on is a willingness by all to face challenging issues in an environment of mutual respect.
Okay, but does Christianity really have something to offer modern existence?
That’s why we gather each Sunday, and basically every other day of the week to ask through worship, art, and justice. This question is why Judson exists. A simple answer comes to mind: yes.