We are a group of mostly American expatriates, living in a coastal community in Northern Baja California. We come from many different backgrounds and many different walks of life. We are hardly ‘homogeneous’ in our views (and some of us are more outspoken in them than others) but what we do share in common is a deep sense of commitment to our community and to continuing to foster it as a place of openness, hospitality, and welcome.

Brunch after Not ChurchNot Church has evolved, for us, as a space where we can explore together a sense of the ‘spirit’ underlying that community, and participate in it together. Some of us consider ourselves atheists. Some of us consider ourselves Catholic or Jewish or Presbyterian. Some of us want nothing to do with organized religion as we’ve experienced it–dogmatic, rigid, and often hypocritical. Of course we know that not all religion, churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship are like that, but too often we realize that religion has come to mean that which is closed, rather than that which is open.

But we also realize that there are many, like ourselves, who are seeking something more–whether we call that God, love, or that in which we live and breathe and have our being. We realize that language and dogma have often gotten in the way of being able to encounter that ‘something more.’ So, we are an experiment, in a sense, to see what happens when a very diverse group of people is able to enter into this journey together.

We don’t claim to have it all figured out. We are a place and a people who are often more comfortable with asking questions, than being given ‘pre-fab’ answers. But we are learning from each other, discovering what it means to be good neighbors, and trying to be the change we wish to see in the world.

This short video produced and directed by Tom Dykhuizen will give you a feeling for what Not Church is all about…

When we first discussed the idea of expanding from our monthly ‘spiritual conversation group’ toward more of a ‘service’ we talked about what we would call ourselves. We realized that none of us really wanted to go to ‘church’ as that brought up a lot of stereotypes. So, we decided to call it Not Church to start with, and see what might come of it. The name has stuck. For us it does not mean ‘the negative of church’ but rather it has come to represent a place of openness, learning, sharing, and participating.

Oh, and we’re pretty excited that TIME magazine heard about what we’re doing and wrote it up in a piece called ‘The Rise of the Nones‘ (which, if you are only hearing it, might sound like ‘The Rise of the Nuns’–which we most definitely are not.)

About Erin Dunigan

Erin DuniganErin is technically ordained as an evangelist in the Presbyterian Church (USA) but you’d never guess it to look at her. Though her enthusiasm is contagious, she prefers to listen to what others have to say rather than lead with her own opinions. It is in part this openness that has helped to create a space for all people to be welcome and included into our unfolding spiritual community.

Her first visit to the community of La Mision was as a six month old baby–with her parents, to visit her grandmother who was one of the first residents in the ‘American’ section. Erin now lives in the 50+ year old house that was her grandmother’s.

If she’s not out learning to horseback ride or surf, you can usually find her working in her garden–or cooking up something interesting but slightly random, using fresh from the garden ingredients.

Some of her favorite authors and inspiration for her view on God, theology, and faith are: Richard Rohr, Sister Joan ChittisterHenri NouwenBrian McClarenMadeline L’EngleRob BellBarbara Brown Taylor,  Frederick Buechner and Garrison’ Keillor’s News from Lake Wobegone.