Visit to Salt Lake Oasis
Part of a series about My Faith Journey.
On Sept 3rd, 2017 I visited Salt Lake Oasis in downtown Salt Lake City. Oasis is a secular organization for post-faith people who are looking for a community. (It compares to the Unitarian church or the Sunday Assembly.) I had heard about it from this Mormon Stories episode and I wanted to give it a shot. Oasis was brought to Utah by John Dehlin who was looking for a secular alternative to offer post/transitioning Mormons.
The five core values of Oasis are:
They have some space downtown that they use: a little hole-in-the-wall along State Street. It was a very casual, come-as-you-are setting with mismatched chairs that seemed representative of the beat-of-their-own-drum, individualistic, people in attendance. There were patio lights on the ceiling to give a little more light to the speakers.
The schedule went as follows:
The whole service clocked in at 2 hours (10am-noon).
There was lots of audience interaction: applause, singing along with the musicians, back-and-forth Q&A with the speakers, etc. The speakers did not feel "distant" or like they were "preaching" to us.
People were very friendly and asked me about myself. I volunteered that I'm a software guy who enjoys board games and had a faith crisis a year and a half ago. One fellow told me about a board game group organized through Oasis. There's even one guy who runs a D&D group.
The second speaker IDed herself as a post-mo and asked how many other post/ex-mos there were in attendance. 90+% of the congregation raised their hands.
I did speak with one guy on the row in front of me that left the LDS church way back when he was a teen, and didn't really have a "faith crisis" so to speak, but heard about Oasis on the community radio station and wanted to try it out.
I was impressed at how many ppl I could openly talk with about awakening, faith transitioning, depression, etc. It was nice to get right past all the small talk and talk about this important stuff.
At the end, they needed help putting chairs downstairs. I have some experience doing this, so I pitched in. We all relayed the chairs down the stairs and got it done in a hurry.
One big challenge for people in a post-conventional stage of faith is to find community. There are people who recognize the value of a church-type setting but want a more secular bent to it. (One way I've heard it is: "Let's steal the best plays from the religious playbook, but ditch all the dogma.") Oasis accomplished that very well. I felt right at home there, much like I did at the Unitarian church.