Factions developed within the church my father lead, and eventually my father stepped down from his role as a pastor there. His brother did not like the direction my father was taking as we left the Friends church and became involved in a startup movement called the Vineyard. The Vineyard movement began in the late 1970s, was considered non-denominational, made up of former Quakers, rock stars and actors, that embraced the idea that one could experience the Holy Spirit through songs, healing, prophesy. My first memory of a church service was when I was in the fourth grade and viscerally witnessed adults laying hands on each other, praying for healing, crying, shouting, shaking and falling over. I was intrigued and a little scared.
My uncle, a quaker, was vocal about this disagreement with my father’s direction and wouldn’t miss an opportunity to tell my father that he was a heretic. This made a strong impression on me. I soon began to become aware of the many disagreements within the Christian community. Some believed baptism was provided when a child was young, others believed that one shouldn’t be baptized until the age of 18. Some believed baptism should be full emersion under water. Some believed you didn’t need water you just needed to receive the gifts of the spirit called speaking in tongues.
The rift that caused my father to leave the church denomination was due to his growing belief in faith healing, speaking in tongues and modern day prophesy. My mother grew more ardent in her display of these behaviors. So much so, that if I admitted to being sick she would lay hands on me and speak in a strange voice with unintelligible words, which was troubling to me, so I learned to never admit I was sick.
My parents would have people over once a week to read scriptures, sing and pray for one another. One night I watched many adults put their hands my then 3 year old brother to heal his ears. As far as I could see and understand, he was declared healed. I was told that my little brother did not have to have the surgery to correct his hearing through the placement of tubes. He could hear clearly again. I believed.