Bahai News - New church brings fulfillment

New church brings fulfillment


Like many average Americans, Mark Hanna once found himself disillusioned with mainstream religion.

At the time, he was an ordained Methodist pastor. But his position did not prevent him from feeling the need to explore other faiths.

"I didn't find the politics of the church to be what I understand as the calling of that community faith," Hanna said. "It's like what James Burk wrote: the function of an institution ultimately becomes to preserve the institution."

Hanna decided to surrender his credentials for the Methodist denomination and has stepped in as pastor of the La Madre Faith Community, a group started last year in the Summerlin area.

La Madre, a 60-member congregation, meets several times weekly in its building at 810 S. Durango Drive. The services are open to anyone.

"Our biggest handicap is not being real visible right now," said Director of Congregational Development Jerry Stewart. "We're not sitting on the street in the little brown church with the steeple, but it's certainly our goal to move into a more visible place."

Stewart and Hanna said La Madre Faith Community is not necessarily a "church," but an experiment in interfaith spirituality.

The group's membership is mostly older people, but there is some diversity, Stewart said. Age and religious influence is not as important as the worshipper's mind set, Hanna said.

"Our approach is more didactic. We ask and try to answer a lot of questions," Hanna said. "We acknowledge that we are grounded in the Judeo-Christian roots, but if someone is looking for that one right way, they might not be too comfortable here, not that we would exclude anyone.

"The one thing I hear the most from new members is that they didn't know they could ask that many questions."

The concept of La Madre Faith Community is based on acceptance and appreciation that Jesus Christ was Jewish; Hanna said the congregation is predominantly Christian with some Jewish influence. The educational guidelines for the group are a series of world scriptures. Sacred texts from Confucianism, Jainism, Soroastrianism, Baha'i, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism are also utilized, as well as Judeo-Christianity's Holy Bible.

"This is a place where you can come and think through issues," Hanna said. "We take a literal approach. You'd be hard pressed to tell anyone they're not thinking correctly, so the approach is to remain open to all points of view."

La Madre Faith Community offers weekly educational classes Sundays and Wednesdays and worship services Saturdays. For more information call 255-1394.

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