Church #51, Greater St John’s COGIC

Date: 3/9/14

Church name/type: Greater St. John’s Church of God in Christ (COGIC)

Pastor: McKinley Johnson Sr.

Style of worship: sections for: song, offering, bible verses, praise, sermon, and prayer

Overall Impression: Seems ok

This church was predominantly black; I was one of a couple white people there. I was greeted a number of times, but not overwhelmingly. Those who said hello were friendly and warm. The building is brand new and set to be officially dedicated an upcoming Saturday. It seems to fit the congregation well.

Citing the praise and singing we were having (and foreshadowing the praise later) one of the praise leaders talked about ‘crazy praise’. She explained how it seems crazy to praise at certain times. She said maybe the devil told you to be alone, to go in a corner, don’t get out of bed- BUT he is a liar. I felt like she was talking to me. I don’t believe as literally as some do in forces such as demons and angels. But I understand the feeling of being crushed beneath a weight you cannot explain. Depression is cruel and evil if anything ever was, and it does keep me in bed and alone at times. If I can pull myself out of bed to do something like go to a church, walk, see the sky, or just take a shower, it helps. If crazy praise means getting out of bed even when I don’t know why, I’m all for it and I say do it.

Later in the service the real crazy praise happened. If I’m not mistaken, COGIC is a variety of pentecostal. This means worship can get a little rowdy. At this church some people were jumping and dancing fast. A few were actually jogging around the room. No one fell down, (yes I’ve seen this) but amid the chaos there were some screaming babies. At that point I wondered if it wasn’t all a bit much. I’m torn because venting by making a lot if noise and dancing until very tired seems like it could work well for some people. But babies are intuitive and cry when others are crying. Since they don’t know English yet, you cannot explain what’s happening. So I felt bad about the babies.

The sermon was actually kind of interesting and unexpectedly thought provoking. It was about Moses and Pharaoh. I think I may have missed the central lesson though. It was about the plagues God unleashed on the Egyptians and how each one was meant as a direct blow to an Egyptian god. Example: Blood in the Nile River was against Hopi the river god. Moses keeps trying to get Pharaoh to listen to words but he will not, so Moses has to resort to deeds. This made me realize something. In this story God is something of a terrorist. I guess I should be more startled at a revelation like this, but Old-Testament-God is shown as kind of a brutal jerk. This time at least it’s directed at the enemies of Israel rather than, say, punishment of a citizen for saying ‘God’ aloud.

anticlimactic: After the service I kinda hung around a bit to see if anyone would engage me further. No one did though, which was a bit of a letdown.
During the service visitors were asked to sign visitor cards if we felt comfortable. I didn’t see them anywhere or I definitely would have done one. Someone should perhaps tell the pastor or lay leader to make them more obvious or announce their location.

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