Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
203: Still on the Pews: A Heart to Heart: Gina Colvin and Bill Reel

203: Still on the Pews: A Heart to Heart: Gina Colvin and Bill Reel

Gina Colvin and Bill Reel (host of the popular podcast Mormon Discussions)  get together for a chat about what it takes to still be engaged in the LDS Church when so many of their friends have left.   They discuss the development of their young testimonies but reflect on how difficult it has become in recent years to love the church with the same enthusiasm they once had.  They consider how the LDS Church could be better for those who crave a deeper and a kinder experience at church.  They also consider their futures as Mormons.


  1. Natalie

    As someone who wonders every Sunday, what am I still doing here, this podcast helped me remember that I’m not alone in my struggle to stay in the pew. It’s such a lonely place to be that sometimes for an extrovert like myself I find it unbearable. I asked my bishop if I could be called to be a fringe gospel doctrine teacher, he laughed until he realized I wasn’t kidding- he turned me down. I’m just trying to find a way to have a voice and serve but I can’t seem to find my place. I, like you both, have been a Mormon to the core, it was my identity for 44 years, my husband and I are return missionaries and we are raising our six kids in the church. It’s been our everything. Now I’m finding myself not only in a faith crisis but an identity crisis. I’m also doubting all my past spiritual experiences within Mormonism because I’m feeling like if I got my religion and its history so wrong I must have misunderstood those experiences too. That puts me in a God crisis as well. I’m just wondering if either of you ever doubted the existence God after your faith unraveled? She has been silent through all this despite my many prayers so I don’t know what I’m called to do or believe- I’m wondering if either of you have had a similar struggle? I don’t want to throw all the good out with the bad but now I question what was ever good. Thank you both for your generous work, it has made a huge difference in my life and helped me find a framework to keep going for now.

    1. Gina Colvin

      Yes, I have Natalie. For a moment I had to question everything I thought I understood about God, right down to God’s existence. I believe that this has been the single most important thing I have ever done, and when I look back I feel like God was right alongside that question. As to your questioning your spiritual experiences because you now doubt the church, I think a lot of people feel that maybe all of it was the effect of a ‘frenzied mind.’ But I just don’t think God has or needs a church. So when people open themselves to what Rob Bell calls, ‘the hum of reverence’, or Maharishi calls, ‘boundlessness, bliss and the unified field’ it is to suggest that their openness is often met and attended to with something deeper that opens them up and arouses them to something bigger than themselves – regardless of what church or context they are in. I don’t think God is a belief as much as God is an experience – that’s what is true.

      1. Natalie

        Thank you Gina for that beautiful and satisfying response. I appreciate you sharing your beliefs and experiences so openly, It’s a blessing to all of us who are in the wrestle.

      2. Steven Ward

        I couldn’t agree more Gina. As a former Bishop, and one who is still active despite all the issues, the experiences I have had in being in connection with others during the happiest and darkest moments in their lives was truly walking on holy ground, and it was more often than not that in those experiences God was there in ways that changed me and those with whom I was walking.
        I don’t know how to reconcile all the human failings we see in our prophets and leaders, myself chief on that list of those with failings, and the tremendously moving experiences it has been my humbling privilege to have participated, other than to attribute it all to Grace and God’s willingness to be in relation with us in the midst of all our human messiness, most of which is like an iceberg to us, we can barely see the tip of it all, but He sees it all and still abides with us and pours out all we are willing to receive. Not worthy to receive, willing to receive. We need to move away from the idea we have to be worthy – none of us are – and accept his grace on faith and be willing to receive all that he wants to abundantly give you and me.

        1. Gina Colvin

          I love this Steven. I agree and I think looking for worthiness is such a detriment to our potential union with God. I fear that in our denial of Grace we make worthiness the altar that we worship at and that’s no spiritual life to live because I just don’t think God is overly concerned with our mistakes as much as he’s concerned with how we grow in love and compassion.

  2. Debs

    Thankyou so much for discussing this topic and opening your heart. Sitting on my hands in SS and trying to stop myself speaking up so I don’t feel like an outlier is becoming increasingly more difficult. But I am where God wants me to be and I am sticking in there. Your discussions help me feel not so apostate, just a questioning soul.

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