Church #40, Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Albany

Date: 9/15/13

Church name/type: Mount Calvary Baptist, part of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc

Pastor: This church is in a transition to a new pastor who hasn’t been chosen/found yet. Our guest pastor was Reverend Gertrude Harris of Macedonia Baptist Church.

Style of worship: I found the format had a surprisingly formal structure for songs, children’s time, announcements, prayer, scripture and sermon. It ran a bit long, but the length was from singing and announcements rather than a drawn-out sermon.

Overall Impression:
Seems pretty good

So another baptist church with mostly black membership. This time I felt less awkward and out of place. By comparison to this church, I think I figured out why I disliked Metropolitan Baptist. The size was too big. I had this problem also with Bethlehem Community. I don’t want to go overkill describing these other two churches so I’ll just say that size matters and a church can be too small, but it can also be too big. Thankfully Mount Calvary Baptist was neither of these things.

So this church had a good bulletin. It clearly outlined all parts of service and gave numbers for the hymns in their hymnal. It also had a short statement at the top which read:

This is the house of God. Be thoughtful; be reverent. Speak to God before the service, let God speak to you during the service and speak to one another after the service.

It’s nice to have such a statement for newcomers because it sets a tone regarding expectations. Actually there was still an amount of speaking during service. I was greeted by a man sitting near me and by the entire congregation during the ‘greeting of visitors’. I was asked to say my name and anything else I would like to share. I said my first name and that I was seeing different churches around Albany. A few people came up to me after service to chat briefly as well. It was kind of nice to feel not ignored.

The sermon was energetic, but never dissolved into something unintelligible. The pastor shouted out some of the message, but in a way different from other shouted sermons I’ve heard; I’m talking about the ones where it’s all catchphrases- “God is yes. God is amen!”- Those make zero sense to me. Nor was it a simple recitation of a bible story. The sermon was about the prophet Jeremiah and the Babylonian captivity. Pastor told us Jeremiah is sometimes called the weeping prophet. He has a massive amount of bad things in his life. He was put into a pit, beaten, disowned and arrested. His whole life was changed by the Babylonian capture of the land that was Judah. Part of the Book of Lamentations is him complaining about all this. I think I would. And of course we do complain. Pastor said we find it hard waiting on God when everyone else gets — (fill in your own desired thing). But somehow the pastor managed to make the message seem hopeful. The energy with which she described our own struggles made it feel like the whole church was alive, and like struggles are not so bad. The strength of her voice and the shouts from the congregation rose to such a pitch it was as though we were talking not of sadness and struggle but of triumph and success. Then the moment passed and the sermon was ended. And I’m having trouble figuring out just what made the talk(shout) so dynamic and happy when it was something of a downer for poor Jeremiah. I guess that’s part of what to carry away from this week’s adventure. Part if life is how you see it. Sadness can increase if you see your life as sad, or decrease if you see it as hopeful. As someone who has been depressed at times I realize this answer is somewhat simplistic. Yet I’m drawn to it because it advocates examining one’s outlook. And that’s definitely one important aspect of dealing with life’s problems.

Website?: No website. They should definitely get one. Either that or a Facebook page. Great churches need websites today in our age of information. At least that’s how I see it.

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