Church #37, Metropolitan New Testament Missionary Baptist

Date: 8/18/13

Church name/type: Metropolitan New Testament Missionary Baptist, part of the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc

Pastor:Reverend Dr Damone Johnson

Style of worship: praise music first, message, altar call (any coverts today?), closing

Overall Impression:I’m having a hard time with the impression synopsis this time, and don’t know if a short tidbit will do it justice. Please skip ahead to the thoughts section.

So to start with, this church is technically out of order. When I programmed my list I just typed the word “Second” into my maps program and it must have auto filled the word “Avenue” instead of “Street”. So I went to church on Sunday knowing that technically it is way too early for this church. Why did I do this? Well part of my project is to see things I haven’t before. This church is the first Baptist variety for another page and a half. Also since I’m trying to be open to this thing I call spirituality, I decided to just treat it like the spirit moved me this way. Maybe God wants me at this church right now. I thought- hey maybe I’ll find something awesome there. Well, here is what I found.

Parking was slightly confusing. The entrance seems to be at the back around a side street. I managed it and went inside. So, based on the website pictures, I had a feeling this church might be predominantly African American. Yup I was right. It’s hard to describe what it was like walking into this church. I’m pretty bad with numbers, but I guess there were about 200 people inside. I think I was the lightest face there. I’ve never felt so aware of what I looked like. I kind of knew I’d feel different, but it’s incredible how striking the feeling is, especially with the added fact that I showed up alone with little idea what to expect. I was pretty sure I stood out like a sore thumb. Is this what the 1% black population at my high school felt like every single day? For the first time in the life of my project I couldn’t decide if I was annoyed or relieved that so few people greeted me. It’s changing my ideas about greeting newcomers as once again, I gain new experiences. It may be less of a good thing to be greeted profusely if one is already afraid of standing out as different.

Ultimately I think I wanted someone to talk to me from the church lay leadership or pastoral staff, but I didn’t catch any of them and they didn’t catch me. Once again I found a church with no coffee hour. And I kinda lost track of which one the pastor was after service, so I never got to talk to him. It’s not the first time this has happened, but usually I’m able to figure it out from the context of them greeting everybody at the door on their way out. There are churches whose pastors (and deacons) dress more obviously pastor-like. All it takes is a name tag, or cloth drape, or little white collar to make the pastor stand out. That would be helpful, because I’m totally unwilling to go up to someone and wrongly guess they are a pastor. It’s just not gonna happen. Last week I greeted the deacon, thinking he was pastor and felt weird enough. Maybe I’ve been sitting too far away.

Anyhow, the service itself was familiar enough. The music was great, performed by a youth-ish choir called (from the bulletin) Metro Stars and the Drake Chorus. The message was roughly in the middle going through some verses in I John. I liked the fact that he mentioned the Gnostics and went a bit in depth in terms of context; the fact that John would have been a young disciple when Jesus was around, now writing a letter in older age to one of the churches. Pastor also mentioned that John was among the three disciples Jesus was closest to; Peter, John and James. And he spoke about the nature of Jesus, stating he was not 50% God and 50% man but rather 100% God and 100% man. He said, “If you try to understand it, you’ll lose your mind.” The Catholic Church would call that a mystery. The fact that it doesn’t make logical sense is part of the point. I’m still working on how I feel about the use of logic in religion. There’s a fair amount of religious stuff that works metaphorically. That conversation is probably for another post.

In the end, since I couldn’t figure out who was church leadership, and no one approached me, I just left. It was a little disappointing a guess. And I’m not sure why God wanted me at this church on Sunday, or if there was nothing more to the mistake.

About what I wrote:I’m really not very happy with this post. I guess that reflects my experience with the church. It seemed like an ok place, but I’m still feeling dissatisfied. It is also why I waited so long to add this up on the website. But it’s got to go up at some point so I guess now is that point.

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