A reasonable reader writes:
I left the OALC years ago and it was by far the most difficult decision in my life. I had lost hope that any positive change would be considered much less made in the church. When I left I experienced sleepless nights and sometimes woke up in a cold sweat. It was a time of great anxiety.
Fast forward to today. I'm relieved it is all behind me.
Is there anything that might draw me back? What would have to change? For myself, the following, not in any particular order (Free sez: I added the numbers for easy referencing):
1. The OALC would have to teach that it is not their place to say who will be saved.
2. Teach respect for other people, other churches, other religions.
3. Teach the value of appropriate behavior, rather than focus on looks and dress.
4. Bring sex abuse out in the open so congregants are aware it has happened in the church, it happens in the church, and they know to be watchful.
5. Teach couples to bear children out of love and want, rather than guilt.
6. Teach that it is right and proper for men to respect women as important members of the church and family. This could easily be done by valuing and encouraging women's input.
7. Discourage young marriages and encourage youth to get an education and be prepared to support a family before marriage.
8. Teach parents to hold children in higher esteem by providing play areas at church with supervision. Children spend hours upon hours at church meetings, and often resort to playing with sticks, rocks, running in the parking lots, etc.
9. Work together as clergy to be prepared to answer tough questions with rational, thoughtful, and useful responses. Society has changed over the past +150 years since Laestadius' time and it would behoove the church to live in the present. Consider reading more present-day sermons.
10. Preach that smoking is wrong. Smoking destroys the body God gave us. How can that be condoned?
11. Encourage members to reach out in their communities. God created life. He has a purpose for His creation and we are all created by Him. None of us gets to choose into which family or which country we are born.
12. Teach that child abuse is wrong. Spanking a child on the bottom is one thing; but pulling hair, pulling ears, flicking faces, flicking heads, etc., is another. This must be addressed.
13. Hold double-ring wedding ceremonies so OALC husbands show the world they are married just like the wives do.
14. Preach against living on welfare except in cases of true need. Able-bodied adults should be working and not cheating the system. If there is no work, people should move where there is work.