NAUGATUCK — A church without religion will open its doors this Sunday in the borough.
Calvary Chapel Naugatuck River Valley, headed by Pastor Jered Murphy, will hold its inaugural service Sunday at the Elks Lodge in Naugatuck.
Murphy, 30, a math teacher and basketball coach, grew up attending a Cavalry Chapel in the Greater Hartford area and has for years hoped to start his own parish.
Cavalry Chapels teach from the Bible, Murphy said, but focus more intensely on what God has done for his followers instead of what his followers need to do to please God.
The motto of the church, which Murphy said he hopes will grab people’s attention, is “church without religion.” He explains the motto as not just doing everything you’re told to do, but doing more and striving to achieve a “relationship with God.”
“Church in my experience, in New England, is as long as you go there on Sunday and follow the rules and do what’s asked than that’s good enough,” Murphy said. “What we’re trying to say is it’s a relationship; it’s an every day thing. The main focus is not showing up on Sunday and doing what you have to do. It’s all the other stuff.”
Murphy added he refers to religion as going through hoops, following rules and doing the “good stuff” you’re told, mainly on Sundays. He feels those good deeds and good works should still be done, but what’s more important is the relationships followers form with God.
“If you only do those rules and deeds and good works, that’s not going to get you into heaven,” Murphy said. “If you just do the minimum and show up on Sundays, the way we read the bible, that’s not going to get it done. It’s the constant interaction and having God as a real factor in every aspect of your life that is above all else.”
The message of the chapel is open to all, but Murphy suspects it will mainly attract people between the ages of 18-45, and mostly high school or college students and young families.
Murphy hopes to create an atmosphere that encourages healing and develop a parish that gives people a place to open up about the issues in their lives.
“Our hope is it’s a place where people can come and feel welcome,” Murphy said. “We want it to feel authentic, and like a family environment. We want it to be a place where people can bring things they’re dealing with in their life and open up and have healing take place.”
Funding for the chapel is coming from two other Cavalry Chapels, in Uncasville and West Hartford; some private donations have also been received.
The first mass will be held Sunday, Oct. 10 from 10 – 11:15 a.m. at the Elk’s Lodge #967, 758 Rubber Ave. Masses will be bi-weekly until January, after which they will be held weekly.