Here's the deal, about 7 years ago the church we had attended for many years basically imploded upon itself (spiritually and communally speaking). I could go into detail as to what happened but the bottom line is that there was an improper relationship between one of the pastors and a member, then problems with the replacement pastor, then some really bad behavior by some members combined with a lack of support and direction from the synod. So you can see it was a royal mess. We tried to be Switzerland but it eventually reached a point that we just left. We did it quietly, without fanfare. After 13 years we just never went back.
Some members were angry that we left (thinking we should go down with the boat) and we were basically shunned. It was rather hurtful since our whole social life was wrapped around the people at that church. We'd see someone at the store and they'd quickly turn away to avoid us.
Some others left too. Most of them went to another Lutheran church and some just never went to any church again.
The vast majority of people in this state are members of the Mormon church. We are not. The church I described was an ELCA Lutheran church. The ELCA denomination is much more liberal than the others within the Lutheran church. Most churches around here are Mormon so finding a church of another denomination is like a little oasis. In terms of theology, there isn't much difference between the ELCA Lutherans and the United Methodists. The differences are more like the seasonings in a pumpkin pie. They're the same thing only different.
The Mormon religion is such that its members typically don't go outside the church community for much of anything. There really isn't a need for it. I wouldn't say it's really consciously intentional, it's just how things work around here. There is an invisible division that is the consequence of "operational differences".
OK, so when the church imploded and we left, we ended up at a Methodist church. It is a really good (healthy) church, with a wonderful congregation and a good pastor. We've been there just over 6 years. We SHOULD be really content but in all that time we've missed certain things, things we were used to like music, liturgy, etc. As I said, it isn't a theological difference, it's the seasoning added to the pumpkin pie. Lately we've been missing that pumpkin pie and the Methodist recipe just isn't doing it for us.
I wish there was a good ELCA Lutheran church nearby. Actually, there is the one some people split off to but they are still associated with the "other" one and not necessarily a healthy or thriving congregation. It is a very small church with an old congregation whose members are pretty set in their ways. Let's just say there's a lingering scent there from the somewhat recent and much older history. The other Lutheran churches (2 more) are not ELCA. They're more conservative and have restrictions for female pastors (not allowed) and are not gay friendly. I'm not gay but this is still an important issue for me.
Anyway . . . I guess I am just whining. I really don't see any other options unless we wanted to drive 40 miles (or more) to SLC and that isn't really an option. Sometimes I think maybe I won't go to church but it is the one place to be with others who are not members of the Mormon faith (where there are HUGE differences not only in theology but in everyday life).