Breaking bread

"If people who want to follow Jesus and love their neighbors as themselves can’t get along, then who can?"

A new nondenominational Christian church was scheduled to start services today at a Chandler elementary school with the stated purpose of bridging the widening political gap in America.

The Well was starting weekly services at 10 a.m. in Hancock Elementary, 2425 S. Pleasant Drive, and its pastor, Rev. Ryan Gear, was starting with a series of sermons titled “YOUnited States of America,” which he said is intended to “help people who voted differently understand each other.”

“We’re living in one of the most divided times in American history, and we all feel that anxiety,” Gear said in a release. “From cable news, to social media, to awkward dinners with extended family, it feels like we are surrounded by anger, political fighting and judgment. Most of us are now fatigued by it.”

Gear said the new church “is intentionally trying to reach people from all over the political spectrum – Republicans, Democrats, independents.

“If people who want to follow Jesus and love their neighbors as themselves can’t get along, then who can? We believe Christians need to model listening and understanding and bridge the divide.”

“Of course, we’re going to disagree about things we feel passionately about,” he added. “But to move forward as a country, we need to learn to disagree better, without contempt for each other. Then reasonable people can meet in the middle just enough to create a better future for our children.”

He said that while more people grow skeptical of organized religion, “there seems to be an even greater openness to healthy spirituality” and that even people who doubt or question the Bible “also feel a spiritual thirst that often goes unquenched in our culture.”

On its website, wellaz.org, the church’s mission statement says:

“We’re convinced that lots of people would like to be part of an inspiring and joyful spiritual community that touches our souls and makes us better, but one without the partisan politics and culture wars that seem to have taken over so many churches.”

“The Well is a place to express both your faith and your doubts, and we invite you to explore faith and spirituality in a community where thinking, compassionate people can find a spiritual home and cultivate a Jesus-inspired life.

“Because we welcome everyone regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey, we do not require participating members of The Well to affirm every statement of faith that we teach.”

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