Church #62, (First) Israel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Date: 8/17/14

Church name/type: “First” Israel AME church (also searchable without the word first), part of the AME denomination, also member of the five FOCUS churches in Albany who together serve the inner city with educational programs, food and lodging

Pastor: Usual pastor seems to be named Reverend Smart. On this day we heard a guest pastor; Reverend Jimpson.

Style of worship: structured but not over-formal

Useful takeaways:
On this day I found my way into a pre-service coffee hour and talked with a few friendly people. During the service they have a visitors greeting time called “warm welcome”. I got smiles, handshakes and hugs. The teen sitting directly in front of me turned immediately to give me a big hug which made me super happy.

The musical instrumentation included drums, guitar, sax, and organ. I’m seeing a trend in churches with predominantly black membership; the music is often more modern and upbeat, falling into categories more like rock and jazz. Many denominations from European traditions use older, more solemn styles of music. I think I prefer the modern.

A piece I liked from the sermon was the idea of clearing away rubble in our lives. In particular, some items listed that we may want to be rid of included: self-pity, jealousy, and picking out single bible verses. This last one is interesting in that it suggests we shouldn’t rely on a bible verse alone without understanding the context around it. The point is one I often feel the need to make myself and it’s good to hear churches acknowledge it.

Problems/Improvements: Both the website and the printed material had errors. The website states that church service begins at 11am, I was told in fact it has started at 10am for quite some time now. Also there was an event advertised in the bulletin as “lunch and a word” purporting to be some form of bible lesson with free lunch. The location and date were listed wrongly.

Because of these errors I had to return on 8/17 to catch church, (having missed it entirely the first time a couple weeks prior) and was unable to attend any sort of lesson they may have had accompanying lunch.