Church #8 part 5

oops! I just fixed this below, as it turns out two X’s in Roman numerals is 20…so the articles we looked at were 20 and 21 and not 10 and 11. Where my fact checkin’ fans at?

Another Sunday morning started off with hearing some of the 39 articles. This past Sunday we learned about articles 20 and 21. Article 20 was removed and returned several times; I don’t know why. Other articles seem more questionable than this does. I’ll define it briefly: rules can be made outside of the bible as long as they don’t contradict the bible or make the bible contradict itself. Now the bible is a challenging document to pour over entirely, but I’m sure it contradicts itself sometimes. I guess people can decide themselves how to make peace with that. Basically the article is just outlining a guide on rule-making. We also heard further that there are three steps to resolving disagreements about rules or rules to be made. They are 1) scripture 2) tradition 3) reason. This means that when deciding to set up or review a rule you need to first figure out if scripture can resolve it. If scripture is ambiguous on the point you go with tradition. If tradition doesn’t help, you use reason. And if reason fails, I guess you form a new branch of religion. You know, because this is probably how most offshoots start- from a disagreement. I said the bit about creating a new church at the talk, but no one laughed. Oh well.

Article 21 states that Princes may meet to make rules and that they can make mistakes if they stray from scripture. So, this article is related to the last one and gives a bit of room for the Episcopal church to be wrong sometimes. I’ve actually been complaining for a while now that groups and power figures are not allowed to be wrong by the public. We don’t let politicians change their mind without then name-calling them wishy washy. Everyone needs room to be wrong. I also learned that the word ‘Princes’ refers today to the bishops across the US. In England the bishops are technically still advised by the the queen, but I imagine in reality that it’s more like the other way around.

Church #9, St. Thomas the Apostle

Date: 4/1/12

Church: Saint Thomas the Apostle

Pastor: Father- I didn’t even get to meet him. No idea.

Time Spent: 10:30-11:45am

Overall Impression: Ehhhh…

Type: Roman Catholic

Format: Standard Roman Catholic format in short: Song, 3 bible readings, chant/song, sermon, prayer intentions, chant/song, communion, blessing

Thoughts: This church felt like the most boring example of the most boring example of a church. It was Palm Sunday for crying out loud! That’s supposed to be one of the best and most interesting Sundays all year. I like my Catholic heritage and find the familiar formula very comforting. But this was a really dry experience for me. I wonder if the problem lies in the issues with priest shortage. The church was ridiculously filled and there were two other masses; one before and after. It felt rather like we were cattle being packed in and then shooed out to make room for the next bunch. There was no coffee hour or fellowship time after mass. The priest didn’t even stand in the doorway to meet exiting parishioners. Not a single person said hello to me outside the passing of the peace- which is basically mandatory, cursory, and felt meaningless. I am totally ashamed of this church and want desperately to see a better example ASAP to remind me of what I love about church.

Overall Feelings: Disappointed.

Church #8 part 4

I am currently doubling up on church visits, but not church services. I am still going to the 39 articles series at St Stephen’s. After the morning talk, I proceed to whatever church was next on my list. Unless I encounter a conflict of course. Then I’ll have to play it by ear. The next church on my list gets it’s own post, so scroll up to see that.

Anyways, more people are recognizing me at St Stephen’s; I’m finding both goods and bads with this. It is nice to say hi to new folks who ask about the project. But I’m also getting a slightly clingy vibe. This is something that happens to some degree in nearly every church I’ve ever been to new. Churches like getting new members. Often, they like it so much that they overwhelm visitors with messages to ‘join us!’ ranging from welcome packets, to talking your ear off about how great the church is, to acting mildly offended that you consider not coming back. I’m not saying this is a necessarily a selfish act on the part of the church or members. For one thing, Christians are taught that those who don’t believe are going to hell. And if you haven’t been to other churches outside your own, maybe you can’t be sure any other churches will get it right. So people have to attend your church because their very soul is at stake. That reason is not selfish, it’s really the opposite. Also I know that church makes some people really really happy and they want to share that, even if it doesn’t work that way for everybody. Whatever the reasons, I’ve seen a lot of churches overdo it with the please-join-us business and they wind up sounding desperate. Best way to do it and not overdo it? Jury of me is still out on that one. I know there is such a thing as undergreeting. (see my post on church #9, coming soon) The subject is worth some thought and it’s own post. I’d like to tackle this at some point soon.

To the group at St Stephen’s: Guys, I’m not staying. And it isn’t a reflection of what kind of place it is or the job you are doing. The church seems fine, everyone seems nice. But I’ve got my reasons, embedded in the project and otherwise. And I’d like to think that in a way (because this is the first church with more than two people checking out the blog) I sort of am staying. Maybe I’m staying a little bit at all the places I visit. My blog could be a way to keep that up and even connect a few people to each other. Could my blog turn into the hottest thing since baked bread? Idk. Stay tuned…

Church #8 part 3

The project is starting to really get exciting. While I knew the internet was a great way to connect people and ideas, I guess I didn’t really think my blog would be good at that. Well, the blog got a ton of traffic recently, and I think much of it might be from the site-sharing going on with members of St Stephen’s. I had several people identify who I was at church today with ‘oh you’re the one with the blog!’

I will jump right into some elaboration regarding that pesky article 13. Father Egan told us this morning that many people were confused by it. I will try to update it based on what he said. Yes I do still think the original article is rather severe sounding and possibly needs to be reworded. I will give you the text and then the explanation. Here is the article word for word:

Article XIII (13) Of works before Justification-
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

And the explanation from this morning is as follows: From an earlier article we learned that through Adam we are sinful- not because of a sin he did, but because he was by nature a sinful person. I guess it could be restated as saying humans can sin. (Just in case you are like me and aren’t convinced there was a literal Adam) So sin is in all of us, in our DNA as it were. The article is meant to refer to ANYONE outside of justification as being in a state of sin. Even if they do good works. The good works are still good, but you need justification. And justification, while a little bit hard to pin down, means approximately- allowed into heaven because of faith and grace. So who is outside justification? I guess atheists and babies? And the do-gooding atheists are probably ahead on that one because babies don’t really know how to do good works yet. Another example that was used was the Christian that attends church every Sunday vs. the part timer who comes on Christmas vs. the non-believer. Ok I have to admit I didn’t completely follow on this one. I think it has to do with how invested you are in your faith and thereby how likely to be in on the grace and the justification. Maybe someone else understood it and can let me in.

Other articles we heard about this Sunday included one that specifies ONLY JESUS was without sin. It directly opposes the Catholic view that Mary who gave Jesus birth was also sin-free. Fun fact: Virgin Mary was the one being conceived during the immaculate conception, NOT Jesus. That, just to reiterate, is a Catholic viewpoint on the topic. We also touched briefly on what the Anglican church calls ‘sins against the Holy Spirit’. They are the sins of not listening to knowledge and willfully shutting out the truth. I thought this was really interesting because different people can see different things as true. A great example is that fictional atheist we keep talking about. He believes it is a fact that God does not exist. Is that seen by the Episcopal church as willful self deception? How are we to judge whether someone is lying to the world or to themselves? Or just confused? And how are we to know if we are confused and someone else has the truth? It is something I’ve been stumbling with for several years now. There doesn’t really seem to be a satisfactory answer. But that’s part of my project too. Seeing how others satisfy themselves with their faith and trying to find the tools I need to satisfy myself with my own belief as it grows and changes.

My plan for next week is to attend the 9:30 talk at St Stephen’s and then scoot over to my next stop -St Thomas the Apostle. It should be a nice chance to revisit my roots and talk about some of the stuff I grew up with as well.

Church #8 part 2

Additional thoughts:

For those just tuning in, the next couple weeks I am continuing to visit St Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Not because I think I’ve found a spiritual home, or because I have found Episcopal is my new brand of choice- nope. But because the church happens to be giving a very interesting series of talks on what Episcopalians believe (or are supposed to believe).

I am noticing that visitors in a new church can belong instantly if they 1) act like they know the pastor AND 2) act like they own the place. People are starting to assume I’ve been coming to church for a long while and they just didn’t notice me before, and I think it’s because I wander the church like it’s my church. And I do talk easily with anyone willing to talk to me including the priest. (I talk a lot btw.) It also makes it easier to ‘sneak in’ to churches where new members don’t get the mob welcome. You may attend for a long while before getting to know most of the other members. It’s something I used to notice a lot from Catholic churches as well. (Big surprise right?)

This past Sunday I heard a bit more about Catholic Queen Mary and her putting back of all the Catholic stuff. Then she died and the Catholic stuff went away AGAIN. Those people in England must have been SO confused. And Queen Elizabeth had a total mess to deal with politically and religious-wise. They were so tied together back in the day.

This project is bringing out so much unexpected stuff. The articles of religion this week went from 10-13. As it turns out, the 39 articles of religion are mostly about how Anglicans are like Catholics and how they are not like Catholics. And apparently about how I am like neither. Article XIII (13) is about how good works which are done outside of the knowledge of Christ are not pleasing to God and have the nature of sin. That’s right, the Anglican church says good works are really not good enough if you don’t believe in God and Jesus. It even calls them sinful. The “atheist down the street” we heard about who does good stuff still isn’t as good as the Christian with Jesus in his heart. And further, the Christian does not have to try to do good works because (from several articles before that one) if he has faith, good works naturally follow. This idea is nice in a fairytale kind of way, but I don’t think it can be right in the context of reality. At least not all the time. I am sure there are atheists who do more good works than I do. Just because I believe in someone does not mean I get a free pass to never push myself to do good works. And I doubt the good things done by an atheist count for less than the ones I do. A good thing is a good thing. So I’m calling bullstuff on article 13. Of course if the actual article was amended to the explanation I got regarding doing works to please yourself or gain respect as sinful, that’s another story. But it’s not. Well, maybe it should be.

Church #8, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Date: 3/11/12

Church: St Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Pastor: Father Adam Egan

Time Spent: 9:30-10:30 lecture prior to service, 10:30-12noon service

Overall Impression: Seems nice

Type: Episcopal, member of the Anglican Communion (it means they are linked to the Anglican church in England from which the Episcopal Church split off in the early days of the US)

Format: The service is very formalized and structured, similar to what you would find in a Roman Catholic Church. In fact, much of it is word for word what is used in the Catholic church. Every part of service has certain words which are used and well known by the congregation. It is very formulaic. If I don’t miss my guess, most Episcopal churches are going to be the same. Rough format is: silent confession of sins, readings from the old and new testament, sermon, statement of belief, prayer intentions, communion, prayer- all interspersed with songs from hymn books.

Thoughts: A bit of an unusual Sunday to the project, I started out by attending a talk at the church about the 39 articles of religion. This turned out to be (awesomely) something of a history and church doctrine lesson. There will be continuation of it for several more Sundays and I’m strongly tempted to put the project on hold and attend all of them. Putting that aside for a moment, I will talk about the service itself.

Inside the church was bright, clean, and adequately warm. I was greeted by several attendees of the 9:30 talk who made chit-chat with me. At the church service itself I was given a cursory greeting by a bunch of different members, especially during the “passing of the peace”. It serves as kind of a hello time for all the members and falls a little outside the formality. This church did a moderately subdued musical chairs style passing of the peace, with some people leaving their seats. The rest of the service was expectedly very formal. The good thing about this church was that the entire formula we were expected to follow was printed in the bulletin. The only difficulty I had was in switching from holding the bulletin to holding the hymn book, to holding the page of the bible readings, which happened several times back and forth.

The sermon was more on the topic of the history of the Anglican church. Here is what I learned:

Much of the format and prayers used in services comes from a book called The Common Book of Prayer. The original version of the book was compiled in 1549, from existing sources mostly, by a dude named Thomas Crammer. He was an advisor to King Henry VIII. After King H died and his son took over, Crammer instituted some minor/huge changes, depending on how you look at it. It was a big deal at the time. He removed idols, images, and relics, because they distract from us praying right to God. He instituted weekly communion. At that time the Catholic church only had communion on Easter. He also emphasized the idea of grace and the fact that God loves us. And most cool of all, he had English used in service instead of Latin! The uncool part was when Queen Mary took over and had Crammer burned for refusing to stick to his recantation of the new church.

There were other familiar parts to the service here and there. The communion used wine like a Catholic mass. The congregation sang a slower version of the doxology. Prayer requests were all followed by a response “Lord, have mercy”. Basically this felt like a bridge between all the Catholic and Methodist churches I have attended with any regularity. Very interesting and intriguing.

Overall Feelings: Felt very familiar. Not as energetic as some denominations can be. That can be ok, boisterous worship is not for everyone.

Project Direction: I’ve decided. I am changing a rule. I was so taken by the timing of finding a church that explains it’s own history and doctrine as I happened to show up, that I am going to stay for a few Sundays. It seemed like such a shame to just move on and miss all that info. It is after all, my project, so I’m going to get my fill of Anglicanism before moving on. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Church #7, Mount Moriah Church

Date: 2/26/12

Church: Mount Moriah Church

Pastor: Pastor Jesse Holt (youth pastor)

Time Spent: 11am-1pm

Overall Impression: Seems fine

Type: No idea. This place could be any brand of Christianity for all I can tell in terms of denomination. I did however manage to scare up a few descriptors from the literature I was given:

The regular pastors have training from the Faith School of Theology and Zion Bible Institute and International Bible Institute and Seminary. The church beliefs are described by a series of bible quotes from the new testament I’m not going to run though. The service is described as Spirit-filled, with brief explanations of tongues, lifting hands, and falling under the power.

*Update* 10/6/13 This church has no denomination and considers itself independent, however it originally formed out of an apparent difference of opinion and subsequent splitting of an Assemblies of God congregation into two groups following the introduction of new church leadership.

Format: songs, invitation to prayer up front with laying of hands, extensive prayer to the internet viewer (yeah services are on the web via church website), announcements, black history month presentation, offering, youth speakers, sermon

Thoughts: Ok before I go on, what is the deal with the word ‘corporate’? I have never ever heard the word corporate used to describe anything that wasn’t an extensive business. But this year in my project I have heard it used at three different churches to describe group worship. What is the deal? Is this some kind of take-back-the-english-language movement I don’t know about? Anyone who can enlighten me, please leave a comment.

So back to the church. I arrived in the middle of something. It was 10:55am, I should have been on time. Turned out to be bible study in the worship space. Way to confuse me, but ok that’s fine. I was greeted EXACTLY THE RIGHT AMOUNT. Listen up and I’ll give you the formula. In order to greet someone (like me anyway) new exactly right, the greeters should give a 4-6 minute window between greetings. Each new person said hello to me about six minutes after the last one did. This let me relax between greetings and helped me remember the names better. Also it served to show me that each one didn’t just follow suit, but saw I was new and decided on their own to greet me. The greeting length is important too. The interaction was limited to saying hello, welcome, and one or two questions about me, after which I was left alone. This interaction showed that the person was interested in me, but wasn’t so clingy as to become creepy. This is the style of greeting I advise, based on me and what I like. Seems like it might work for others as well, but I can’t be 100% sure, as I’m not everyone else.

The rest of the service was good, if long. Another unusual Sunday I suppose. The regular pastor was not there and there were the youth speakers and the black history presentation. The congregation seemed boisterous, culturally mixed, noisy, and there were lots of kids around. Mentally, I had a big reaction to the youth speakers. It wasn’t anything they said in their short message. It just sometimes happens when I think about how neat it would have been to participate in church stuff meant only for youth when I was a youth myself. I get angry about it. Nothing much was available like that when I was younger. I felt different from others, but in church you are supposed to feel good about yourself and love everyone. That’s what I took from my religious upbringing- mainly love others. But most of those I went to school with came from exactly the same Catholic background I did. And so many of them seemed to not get the loving others part. I have no idea if youth activities with the church would have reflected the way it was in school or the getting along part. I feel like the discrepancy between the two has affected me even as an adult. But that won’t change just because I’m upset. So I suppose it makes me just hope that the experience for these kids and young adults in this church can be a really positive one such as I didn’t get.

The rest of the message was given by the youth pastor. It ran a little long but had a lot of really accessible ideas:

Integrity was a key point. A quote from R. Buckminster Fuller ,”Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” A quote from the pastor, “Integrity means taking responsibility for what God wants for you.” The idea of wholeness as one of the synonyms for integrity was touched as well. “One needs to be whole first before doing for others.”

It is a good idea not to wear yourself out. Integrity also means doing enough but not doing too much. I like it, it’s easy to understand and makes good sense.

Overall Feelings: Wish I could have stayed after service. I was basically starving for lunch and left in a hurry.

Church #6, Solid Rock Church

Date: 2/19/12

Church: Solid Rock Church

Pastor: Pastor Justin Metcalf

Time Spent: 10:30am – 12:15pm

Overall Impression: Mixed

Type: As I am finding is common, no denomination was claimed. The Pastor made mention to me of a Pentecostal tradition and their website specifies that they are a group that came from an overcrowded Pentecostal church in Rensselaer.
9/23/13 Update: I checked further into this denomination and it is part of UPCI- United Pentecostal Church International.

Format: I was distracted from the format by my other observations and didn’t write it down. From memory it went: Music, prayer, sermon, communion, closing

Thoughts: Wow, this church is going to be hard to describe. I was surprised so many times by things good and bad. Very first impression -no bulletin. Then three or four people saw that I was new and greeted me warmly but briefly enough so as not to be overwhelming. I was also offered a copy of the new testament and a visitor form. I used the new testament copy as service went, but gave it back afterwards as I already have several at home. The music was going and I was thinking about my project and what kind of people attended this church and how much they really believed what was being said; the kind of things I sometimes think about during these Sunday services. One of the greeters came up to me to take away the visitor form. Well I hadn’t filled it in yet. But he was very insistent. I thought “Maybe he wants that little clipboard it’s on?” so I gave it back. He took it, noticed I hadn’t written on it and said, “You didn’t fill it out.” Then followed an exchange in which he tried to convince me to finish writing on it, came back three minutes later to take it, looked at it again and realized I hadn’t included contact info, and tried to get that from me. I said, “I’m not comfortable giving that out.” He said, “We wouldn’t share it with anyone.” All this going on while the band and church is still singing praise music. Finally he took the paper as it was and went away. I wish I’d said something afterwards to the guy or the pastor. I got the vibe that he really didn’t have ANY idea how uncomfortable he was making me.

There were a lot of other bits that were noticeable which I will outline briefly.

1) The music sounded good. Combo was: guitar, bass, drum set, keyboard. The musicians all seemed talented and I like the blend of the four instruments.

2) Lots of Christianese. Maybe at some point in the future I will give Christianese a whole post to itself. Christianese is made up of words or phrases that sound normal, but mean something extra in the context of Christianity. Most used phrase today was “God will physically touch us”. That’s weirds right? It almost makes God sound dirty. Or is he a regular person that who could put his hand on our shoulder? In fact I’m pretty sure this one just means the opposite of what it says. God is not really a physical being, so we must be ‘touched’ by Him in some way emotionally or mentally.

3) This church does a charitable project new each month. This month was a Habitat for Humanity build. Next month is probably going to be a food pantry project.

4) Prayer time was not open to congregation requests, but it did require us to hold hands and it was very noisy. Lot’s of people exclaiming ‘yes Lord’ or ‘Amen’.

5) The sermon message was a bit simplistic. A lot of it was just use of single words or phrases. It went something like… “God is not ‘no’. God is ‘yes’. Say ‘yes and amen'” Then everyone said -yes and amen. Lots of repeating phrases after the pastor. I was almost reminded of Sunday #3. But there was a couple little gems there too. Pastor said that it is easy for us to go to a doctor who we hardly know and have faith he will make us well. Why is it harder to have faith in God who we do know? And he mentioned rhema and logos. Which I had to look up. Both are translated as ‘word’, but they have a slight difference in use. Rhema means ‘spoken word’. Logos has something of a broader definition. Sometimes it can mean ‘written word’. It is also used to mean language or even discourse. That makes logos feel like it represents not the actual sounds of a word, but the thought going on behind the word. And logos can mean specifically ‘word of God’.

6) Communion! I haven’t actually shared a communion since my project began. Not all churches do it, not all do it every Sunday, and not all allow casual visitors to partake. The pastor mentioned that any can come have communion, so this church is open to anyone having it. It was grape juice and cracker style. (I think the cracker was actually matzoh!) Everyone filed up front, took some and wandered back to their seat. Then we all ate and drank at the same time.

After service was done I waited around for the pastor to say hello. I introduced myself and my project. He gave me props for my courage (he didn’t say props) and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I was surprised because usually pastors either say “cool!” or offer things which they have thought of that might help. Being asked what I actually wanted made me feel like he didn’t just see me as some lost sheep that needed directing, but possibly a smart individual who is capable of finding stuff out herself. Since I assumed he’d be open to it, I asked for prayer. I got some prayer. I also got a book called (don’t laugh) Christianese. It was a gift. I’m going to have to read it for my next Sunday off.

Overall Feelings: Still mixed. They seem nice, enthusiastic, and oblivious to the couple of weird things that are gonna turn people off.

Church #5 Bethlehem Community

Date: 2/12/12

Church: Bethlehem Community Church

Pastor: This Sunday it was Pastor David Eames.

Time Spent: 10:00 – 11:30am with a little extra thrown in talking to some friends

Overall Impression: Good, but bigger than I’m used to

Type: According to the website, this church began as, and I suspect still considers itself, an interdenominational church. I’m not sure what denominations it is between. It has an evangelical feel to it. I’m not entirely sure how pastors are selected, hired, called or whatever. All of the pastors listed on the website are male and several of them have degrees in theology from seminary colleges. There was also a section describing leaders which made a distinction between elders (male) and deaconesses (female). I couldn’t make out if one is meant to ‘outrank’ the other or what. I’m sure there is a set of rules and regulations for all this stuff that isn’t going to be available to the casual web surfer.

Format: Music, announcements, more music, appeal for money for charity type project, sermon, music

Thoughts: So I gotta be honest, there were a lot of things working against my liking this one. It was a particularly down Sunday for me from the get-go. For some reason (or several) I was just bummed out when I got up that morning. That might be the reason the music wasn’t really doing much for me. I also suspect the gymnasium which doubled as the worship space might have had some poor acoustics going on. I wasn’t greeted at all this time, except in a cursory way by the woman handing out bulletins. This I think I can safely say was due to the enormous number of people in attendance; too many to recognize a new visitor. And to be fair, the woman who sat next to me struck up a short conversation with me after the service in which she found out I was new and invited me back.

I can’t say the sermon interested me much. It was pretty short owing to the choir and the charity appeal taking time away. A couple of friends of mine who I met afterwards said that it was unusual in its brevity. I did get a few little nuggets of awesome from it though. He said that “every church has problems because every church has people”. This is a wonderful idea to hear from a pastor. Many churches fail to recognize that they might have issues going on that could be improved upon. Just recognizing the need to consider problems is a great thing. I wish more churches would acknowledge this idea. I also noticed Pastor Eames can get kinda shouty. A few people responded with ‘amen’ or ‘yes’, but not in a widespread way. And he’s funny. He told an amusing joke about a painter which I will retell later on.

After the service I got some extra info on the church from my two friends who attend there. We had a bit of good talk before I went on home. I’m not really sure if I would have stayed long if they hadn’t been around. The pastor kinda disappeared afterwards- I think there was a meeting he had to go lead? And it was a whole huge mess of people, which can sometimes make me nervous. I don’t love big crowds.

Overall Feelings: Eh, s’okay I guess. The size thing might be a detriment to my returning. As I said I’m not in love with big crowds. Other than that it wasn’t really problematic.

Oh yeah, that joke:

So a house painter is looking for work. He gets connected with a church that is in some serious need of paint. He strikes a particularly good bargain which will compensate him well and make the church happy too. He gets his supplies ready and shows up to start the job. Once he gets out of his vehicle he realizes the church is much bigger than he originally thought. It has a whole extra wing- he isn’t going to have enough paint! What can he do? He decides it won’t hurt anyone if he just adds some water to the paint to stretch it. As he starts working, the beautiful sunny day begins to cloud over and become threatening. Dark clouds fill the sky and thunder and lighting rumble and crash. He knows he’s in trouble with the man upstairs, so he gets down on his knees and prays, “God what should I do?” God’s voice comes down from heaven, “REPAINT! AND THIN NO MORE!”

Church #4, Glenmont Community Church

Date: 1/29/12

Church: Glenmont Community Church (Reformed)

Pastor: Abby Norton-Levering

Time Spent: 10am-11:30am

Overall Impression: Good, familiar, small community

Type: Reformed Church in America

Format: Some opening words and a song, greeting time, congregation speaks some lines together, scripture and song, sermon, prayer, song, blessing

Thoughts: The feel is very like several Methodist Churches I’ve been to. The format was basically identical. I fear I will have very little to say about this church, simply because it was not alien to me. It felt like a church. There were pews and a loft for an organ, hymnals and bibles, and I got to sing the doxology. I sure do love singing the doxology. For any unfamiliar with it, here’s the words:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above ye heavenly host,

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost


That has such great memories for me from camp and the different tunes we used to sing it as a grace before meals.

The greeting time near the beginning of service was the ‘musical chairs’ type, in which everyone moves all over church to say hi to everyone. I got a hug from an older gentleman named Jay, who seemed nice. Also there was a prayer time open to the congregation, in which we took turns giving Pastor Abby prayer requests. Then she led us in prayer over the requests. This again was very like the Methodist Churches I’ve been to.

The church is small. The building isn’t too big and those attending church don’t fill the building more than one third. They told me it was down to about five families at one point, in danger of closing. But it didn’t and has grown some since. And it is fairly active in terms of projects geared towards helping the needy, especially considering its size. I’ve been to churches with size/attendance issues before and I’ve seen how tough that can be, so I hope this church can continue and be where it needs to be. As for me, the nature of my project says I must go on to the next church on my list. I do however think I will be stopping at this church too sometimes with canned goods for their food bank affiliate. They are conveniently located right next to a grocery store.

Overall Feelings: I like this place, and would be willing to go back again.