Church #19, First Reformed Church of Bethlehem in Selkirk

Date: 9/30/12

Church name/type: First Reformed Church of Bethlehem (RCA)

Format summary: The usual, announcements at the beginning were informal, group reciting of lines like the call to worship, songs, musical chairs peace, sermon and closing

Overall Impression: it was alright.

The biggest thing that stuck with me after leaving the service was how neutral it made me feel. It wasn’t bad but wasn’t great. The sermon was about tossing out walls and boundaries that separate the churchgoer from others out in the world. That we ought to accept and welcome those who come through our door no matter what they look like. All this talk about welcome, and at the coffee hour, it was only after several minutes that I was hesitantly greeted by two people. It was a bit disappointing.

During coffee hour, I was introduced to two other people who had done a year long ‘searching for a church’ project. After I got home I realized that they had more to say about the negative experiences they left than the positive ones they found. I guess that could be an indicator on why most people do church searches. They don’t leave a place until they have to, then they find one that isn’t so bad. I guess it’s good for me that I don’t need a church to be everything for me and I’m not looking for a new home. I have everything to gain and less to lose in not finding the mythical perfect church. But I’m digressing.

The church building seemed fine, the format was normal, people smiled at me. But no one went too far in talking to me. I don’t know what the lukewarm reception was about. It looks like a small enough place for people to have recognized me as new. Maybe this church just not lively as a whole. Maybe very few of them care about what they are doing. Or maybe they are all just really reserved. I guess it’s good that they didn’t go the other way and mob me, clamoring for my return next week. But it does make me wonder if they all don’t know each other from strangers or something.

So what did I like?: This church has a food pantry serving the needs of the local community. It’s in the basement. Whenever I am sad, I shop for it. That way, even if I feel like crap at least I’m helping someone.

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