Last week I attended a Gnostic mass at St. Sarah’s Parish, an Apostolic Johannite Church, at the Theosophical Society in Arlington, MA. I met Fr. Donald Donato and several of the regular parishioners. Everyone was friendly and made me feel welcome. I was not raised as a Christian, so I tend to feel a little out of my element in a church. However, I’ve been exploring my religious options lately. My interest in Jungian Psychology has led to an interest in Gnosticism, so I was pleased to discover St. Sarah’s online. The mass was similar to the usual Catholic mass in some ways, although there was some Gnostic terminology and elements reminiscent of ritual magic, which gave the service a unique feel.
After the service, we enjoyed refreshments while Fr. Donato led a group discussion about the meaning of the eucharist. I found Fr. Donato to be quite knowledgeable and the evening was both enjoyable and educational.
The following night, I attended a class on the roots of Unitarian Universalism at the Unitarian Universalist Church at First Parish in Sherborn, MA. Rev. Nathan Detering conducted the class, which was attended by quite a few individuals. The attendees seemed to be an even mix of those raised as UUs and those new to the church. Rev. Detering was very warm and friendly. He emphasized his concern that everyone should feel welcome in a UU church, regardless of what they believe or don’t believe. UUism is a non-creedal religion. There are no doctrines or beliefs that one must hold, but one must be respectful of the beliefs of others. UUism is so inclusive that there are even many atheists that belong to UU congregations.
I find elements of both AJC Gnosticism and UUism appealing. Luckily, I don’t have to choose one or the other, since both are liberal denominations that emphasize freedom of conscience and belief. I also suspect that they might be highly complimentary. I plan on attending services at both churches in the future.
Information on the Apostolic Johannite Church, Unitarian Universalism, and the churches I visited can be found at: