Church #58, First UMC Rensselaer/ Iglesia Emmanuel

Date: 6/1/14

Church name/type:
The church is called First United Methodist and is part of UMC the United Methodist Church, but also goes by the name Iglesia Emmanuel

Pastor: Mariana Rodriguez

Style of worship:
The service was about half music, half message, with communion at the end

Language: Spanish was used extensively but portions of the service were translated either by a churchgoer or by the pastor, repetition style. I was able to understand much of the Spanish and it strikes me that the very thing I’ve complained about in the past- Christian phrases and special meanings- were the things I caught when in another language.

Useful takeaways:
The music was really great and there was a lot of it. I was at this church for around three hours. Granted the service started a bit later than advertised. The sign lists 2:30 as service. It was probably closer to 3:15. But the music was a significant part of the worship. Everyone was singing boisterously and clapping or using percussion. Several songs were mixed Spanish and English. A couple were Spanish only. Everyone was just having so much fun singing. It really felt awesome.

The sermon had some good points. It was of course a little harder to absorb because a lot of my focus was on the Spanish. Part of the sermon related how God cares for us and gives us good things. But it was also made clear that God doesn’t take away all troubles, so that we shouldn’t expect God to magically make everything great. This has a nice balance, although I think it needs much more elaboration to fully make sense. And as I said, the Spanish translation may have contributed to loss of part of the message.

Communion was really nice. The entire church stood in a circle and we all took communion at the same time. Its kind of hard to describe why this felt so nice. I think it may have been the intimate number of participants. There were about 12-20. After this we sang again.

Problems/Improvements: I had a disappointing conversation with the musician after church. He had asked me elaborate why I no longer worshipped in the Catholic Church. I started to talk about church governance and the Catholic Church not being able to listen and change. He pointed out the the people could be corrupt. I answered that the leadership could be corrupt too. I said I thought there were many ways to read the bible and interpret it. He started to argue that the bible is very clear, you just have to read it. I tried to point out some discrepant interpretations for verses, but the conversation just kept going back to him saying, “No it is very clear.” I found myself saying, “I respectfully disagree.” He just pointed out how the bible is clear. Again.

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