Church name/type: Union Missionary Baptist (Not sure of the exact denomination)
Pastor: Reverend Victor E Covington
Style of worship: A regular format with portions for prayer, announcements, sermon and communion- heavy on music but less so on singable (for the newcomer) music
Overall Impression: Great! …until the very end
This church really had alot going for it. Of the several in a cluster on my project map, I chose one this week with a nice website. A nice website tells me 1) the church is still operating as a church 2) they realize most people are online these days 3) gives the service times 4) sometimes parking tips 5) denomination/philosophy. So I knew not everything would be a surprise at this place. I had to rush off to work afterwards and I didn’t want them springing a 3 hour service on me.
The service started with a thanks to God that we made it to today and God kept us safe. The ‘thanks for being alive’ stuff is something of a recent pattern in the churches I’m moving into at this point in the project. I guess it’s good to remember the simple stuff we forget we have. I find it hard to explain why but this church reminds me a little of the one I attended as a child. I think it’s partly the shape of the church and how the outside is plain and the inside is sunny. Also the people here seem open and friendly. The usher sat me next to a dad with a baby. She made silly faces at me most of the service.
I liked the way no one turned to look at me before I introduced myself at new visitor’s time. This week I was literally the only white person there, but I didn’t feel misplaced at all. I went up front during a call for prayer time. More than half of the congregation was up there so it didn’t feel weird. I liked the music which was an organ and drum set. It was very peppy and both performers really seemed to know what they were doing. I even recognized one of the songs (basically the Glory Be prayer set to music).
The sermon started by describing the two ordinances of Baptist churches; 1) baptism by immersion 2) communion. Then pastor went on to describe communion. The Lord’s Supper is something Christians have done together for 2000 years. We commemorate Jesus’ suffering at the hands of others. This reminds us that we are at fault and someone else suffered. I think it’s pertinent sometimes to think of our mistakes that have caused others to suffer, because once we acknowledge this we can learn. We remember Jesus suffered so we can have life. Pastor Covington said, “There’s no greater love than a man who lays down his life for his friends.” I do believe at the very least that Jesus sacrificed himself so twelve others wouldn’t be killed. I think we should always honor those who suffer so we can have__. We also heard that communion is a celebration and also contemplation and it’s a very important thing.
Then came the bit that seemed kinda like a turnoff. Pastor Covington said that we cannot come to the the table if we are committing sin or have not been saved. He said he does not practice an open communion. He named a list of sins that were unacceptable to communing. He said he didn’t mean to turn anyone away and that we ought go get right with God and come receive. But the thing is, he is deterring people with words like this. He was closing communion to me because I probably don’t fall into his category of ‘the saved’. The worst part about this week was that I really felt nice at this place. I wanted to return- I still do. It’s just hard to hear that I’ll never be welcome to take communion with them if I don’t do it their way and have a saved moment. I think I am safe. I think I am alright. It feels wrong and unnecessary to question this to myself. So I’m left very mixed about this one.
What did you wish happened: I really wanted to see what the membership was like to talk to. I was sorry that I had to head to work right at the end. This is why I still might return. The people all seemed warm and friendly and a number of them said hello and even remembered my name. Still very torn on my church assessment…