Church name/type: Mount Zion Missionary Baptist, unclear if there is any further affiliation
Pastor: Dr Robert Bradly
Style of worship: Songs were sprinkled throughout the service, which had a regular and straightforward format. It included scripture, prayer and collective reading as well as sermon and call to the altar for group prayer.
Overall Impression: I actually really liked it.
I arrived early this time and followed someone inside. I asked about the sanctuary and was directed up some stairs. Inside a bible study was happening so I sat a little back and tried to be quiet and respectful. The young woman leading the study took a second to say hello and handed me a book of the study material so I could follow along. The lesson was from Luke 14; the story of the wedding guests. We talked about the section in which Jesus instructs us to take the lowest spot at dinner, that we might be exalted to the highest spot. It warns that those seeking the highest spot will be downsized to the lowest spot. It’s a pretty standard Catholic lesson in humility and not seeking prestige, so it was not unfamiliar to me. I probably could have contributed if there’d been anything standing out to me. After the lesson was done several of the bible study membership approached me to say hello and welcome. Then they left me alone. They were very relaxed and low-key, which I like.
Once the service started a woman seated near me told me to come and sit by her; she’d tell me what was going on. I decided to take her up on this so I moved. (Minutes later, after I had decided to leave it in the other seat until the service ended, someone brought my warm hat to me from the seat I’d left.) My new friend’s name was Anna, and she told me what to expect at several key junctures of the service. Because of this and the format being listed in the church handout, I really had no trouble following along. At one point we were asked as a group for witness. This was more like news and updates. The sermon followed, continuing a few verses more into Luke.
The next part of Luke is again about a wedding feast. A man has invited a group of his friends to a wedding feast, but none of them show up. When he sends servants to them to ask what’s up, they beg off for various reasons. The host then sends his servants out to find anyone out in the street and bring them in as guests. One of the points that stood out to me in the sermon was the idea that this message relates to us today by representing the kingdom of God. We have to reach out to the people we don’t expect. We can’t only invite those we think belong. This is a strong message of accepting others and I really like it.
After the service a few more people came up to me to unobtrusively say hello. There was a bake sale in the basement so I hung around a bit and talked with a couple of the church members. They seem really nice. And they had what I’d consider the right balance of engaging me and leaving me alone. Everyone was warm but no one was pushy. Even during greeting time for visitors I didn’t feel forced- it was more ‘stand if you want to’.
Conclusion: I should come back here at some point.