The Conveniences And Comfort Of Home Churches
Most people envision a church as being a formalized structure complete with an altar, pews, stained glass windows, and perhaps religious icons. However, a church can be a parlor room with little more than a coffee table for an altar and nothing more elaborate than regular chairs for the attendees. The setting and seating arrangements are not as important as the heart's content, and the soul's intent. The pulpit doesn't have to be any more refined than the chair in which a fervent member sits as he speaks.
Nothing could be closer to the essence of what true religious faith is than a gathering of people that share a common belief in a philosophy or theism that wants no more than a peaceful, loving, spiritual experience. That experience doesn't have to be in a structured setting. The expression, "Home is where the heart is" could easily read, "Church is where the heart is". Because, that is the truest church, your heart. Anytime you open up your heart, whether to God or your fellow man, you are opening up the church within you.
The Holy Bible recognizes and honors that as valid in I Corinthians, Philoman, and in Colossians, where it is clearly mentioned that churches were located in homes. When Jesus spoke on the Mount, there was no structure. There was only a crowd of people with a common heart listening to the philosophy and teachings of one man. That was church.
A home church is no less of a church, and is covered by law as legally acceptable as such. It's allowed the same legal respect and privileges that an established church with a large congregation has. If the gathering has a group of three or more people and they are gathered for a religious meeting or mass, the Universal Life Church recognizes it as a church and will speak out in defense of its rights.
Today, many families are home schooling their children. It's much more prevalent than it has been for centuries. Schools are over crowded and underfunded. Home is a more secure and reliable place to educate. Churches also, are seeing less participation. Parishioners are slowly moving away from the standard practice of attending weekly mass at their church. The old traditional ways of gathering in a home for a meeting is becoming more common among many religious sects and groups.
The Universal Life Church supports that and encourages people to pray where their heart is; pray where they feel free to be themselves and not be judged by their apparel or how much money they put in the collection plate. The Universal Life Church Monastery stands for religious democracy and freedom to worship where the heart desires.
The Universal Life Church certainly has an office, a structured church, an auditorium, and property for those places. Services are held every Sunday at 10:am, in our Modesto California church. However, many of our members also meet in a fellow member's home, if not for a formal mass, then just for a discussion of a philosophical or theistic nature; to share thoughts, ideas, feelings, fears, joys, and passions.
To satisfy the requirements of a home church, the father or mother of the home needs to be the pastor. A charter is required and 2 people, at least 18 years of age to be Secretary and Treasurer. With that, you are legally a church by the state's regulations.
As a church, you are entitled to tax benefits. You can also accept donations of any kind in the name of the church, be it goods, property, or money. You issue a receipt for their taxes. The book we publish will give you much more information.
Remember, any property or locale can be utilized as your church and that location can be changed as often as necessary. The laws of God nor man limit your right and privilege to establish the sanctity of your home or any place as a church. Your rights to practice religion, as you see it, are protected by The Constitution as well as God. Be not afraid to place your faith in yourself. Your heart holds the message and you can be the messenger.