Church #27, Westminster Presbyterian Church

Date: 2/24/13

Church name/type: Westminster Presbyterian Church/Presbyterian Church, USA

Pastor: Associate Pastor Frances Wattman Rosenau

Style of worship:casual formal, similar to other Protestant formats

Overall Impression: good

Thoughts: Nothing too unusual; this place seems fairly middle of the road. I was able to find the place easily enough and on driving into the parking lot, an attendant notified me of an empty spot. A pretty good start!

Inside the church is nice looking- a very tall space with tall, very blue stained glass windows. Rather than depicting a single scene, each window is a stack of four scenes in squares and one half circle scene at the top. The altar area is paneled with carved wood reminiscent of some of the carvings I saw in the Cathedral (Immac. Concep.) two churches ago. The fellowship area is nice-looking too. It was almost like the welcome area of a good hotel; bright, comfortable, pleasant. This church seems well-kept.

I noticed maybe a quarter of the attendance was the choir and they seem well-practiced. There is some talent here I think. The music had several parts and sounded difficult, yet I heard no sour notes. I am impressed. During greeting time people did a bit of moving to shake hands but not overmuch. I stayed put to see who would come to me. I got three handshakes although I was surrounded by more than three people. I noticed they greeted each other warmly enough. And all you really have to say is “peace” and walk away. So, I feel like there was a bit of missed opportunity there.

The sermon was on John’s account of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple. The story is one I like because of its complexity. You have Jesus as the son of God getting all physical and flipping tables over, sending coins and doves scattering everywhere. He is pissed. What was that like? Is he righteous, carrying himself like royalty? Is he brute force acting in rage? Is he a whirlwind, moving so fast no one can think fast enough to stop him? And there’s the dichotomy of loving others while ruining at least a few people’s days. I mean dove sellers gotta make a living, right? Our sermon spoke to the picture of a Jesus with lots of zeal. One particular set of churches called Mars Hill Church is about making Jesus more “manly” and getting away from an image they feel is too gentle and “feminine”. But why do they not use this passage? Maybe it’s because Jesus is still not encompassing their idea of masculinity here. He says clearly what he thinks and takes clear action. He doesn’t simply curse and rampage, he shakes up the status quo to make people rethink things. The pastor left us with the question of our own lives and when it is necessary to “overturn tables”. I like the point and I think it’s interesting that we are left to grapple with what that might mean. I suppose this could be seen as a negative or positive. On the one hand it is highly encouraging of individual thought and interpretation, which I like. On the other hand, you have a pulpit just begging to be used. It might be ok to give some detail as to what would constitute the overturning of tables in a “divine zeal”. The former point gives nice insight into the variety of faith flavors going on in this church; if preaching becomes too specific it could risk losing the audience. Last thought here is that I’m soo glad I don’t have to be a pastor.

After service I got a few more hellos and greetings. I sat in for part of a series of circle discussions on a book the pastor is reading. That was not too bad. It again reinforced the diversity of belief this church seems to house. We talked a little about this and that- Gnostics and Nicean counsels and Evangelicals. We tried to get a definition for The Word vs. the word. That proved remarkably close to impossible. I wanted much more (as always) but time was up and I had to go.

Overall the people seem nice. I think the average age is a bit older than me but not creaky-old. And this may also explain the energy and greetings tending slightly towards the more reserved.

Website?: I found three versions of the church website.
1) Mobile version on my phone is very terse but pertinent. On top are location, service time, and parking. Convenient!
2) Web version of the same has lots of good info and appears up-to-date.
3) For some reason my maps program links a third website which is mostly nonfunctional links. I presume it’s an old site. Interestingly, the service time and location listed on the bad site are still accurate and fairly easy to find.

One Reply to “Church #27, Westminster Presbyterian Church”

  1. Tracey,
    Here in late August, I just came upon your visit to Westminster while doing some other work on-line. I am very appreciate of your notes about visiting us. I am going to share them with the church board so they can reflect on one person’s experience as a visitor to Westminster. You are welcome to come back any time.
    You have created a fascinating chronicle of religious life in the Capital Region. I hope you will keep going.

    –Jim Reisner

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