(This blog post was written by my friend, Jolene Bates. Whether you are religious or not, science has shown that people who participate in spiritual practices are often happier and healthier. Have you missed going to church? Here is one alternative!)
Hi, my name is Jolene. I was diagnosed with IC in 1975. One of the many things in my life impacted by IC is my ability to enjoy church services. Some days I would get along fine, but just as often I would find myself needing to get up to go the bathroom and feel uncomfortable because I felt everyone was looking at me when I made my way out of the service. On days when I was flaring badly, it was not even possible to think about going to church.
Over the years many things happened relating to my ability to get to church. A few years ago after we had made a move to a rural area of Iowa, I found myself wanting to get back to church. I live approximately 40 miles round trip from a church I might have wanted to go to. We don't have a lot of money, so that in and of itself was going to be an issue on a consistent basis. The other part of that was so many days my bladder was not going to allow me to do that kind of traveling.
One of my online friends is a member of Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kansas. This church has what they call an online campus. Every Sunday at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 am, CST and 5 pm, CST; they have a live service with music and sermon. The exact service that is taking place in their church in Lenexa is being shown live on the internet! During the live services, there is a chat box and a live prayer feature as well as service notes are available online. They even have a Facebook group for online campus, so that people who connect with us online for services can even get prayers and support during the week. I tried it out in 2011 and loved it.
To make a long story short, I am now an online volunteer and typically volunteer during the 8:30am and 5 pm services on Sundays. The services are an hour long. They also have started showing the recordings of previous Sunday services for the past month all through the week at different times but those services don't have the chat box feature. They also post just the sermon portion of the services on YouTube. Because of what I do volunteering online, I am also able to turn the chat feature on and off so if there is a time other than Sunday when you or your family or friends want to watch a service, if I am available, I will be happy to help you share a service with your friends and have the chat box. It is a great way to connect with family for church when you don't live close to each other.
This church has been so loving and welcoming to me and I have never stepped foot in the physical church yet. I lead online Bible study groups and Lifegroups via closed Facebook groups for women for them that has both WFC members and non-members alike. Since I am considered part of the volunteer team for the online campus they make sure to include me via Google Hangouts for video meetings.
Today, you don't have to give up church because of interstitial cystitis. If this is an issue for you, do a little searching online for spiritual communities that meet your needs. If you are not sure where to start, please consider trying Westside's online campus ministry. If you are on and see "Jolene from Iowa", that's me!!
Questions? Please email me with any questions at email@example.com. I am also on Facebook, Jolene Bates.
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