Today was the day I decided to really start looking for a church. Apart from obviously being something I believe in, it’s also a great place to meet new people… and boy, do I want to get to know some people. Although I enjoy being on my own, it does get a little lonely – not to mention weird – to have conversations with yourself all the time.
Anyway, it took me a little while to build up to doing this for a variety of reasons: I didn’t know what people wore to church in this country (back home we are very casual – shorts, tees and sandals are ok!), I didn’t know about all the different denominations, and mostly because the last few Sundays I had to figure out where to go out and buy essential things like food and furniture. In regards to the first, I decided that jeans and a (forgive me but) tucked in shirt should be ok. In regards to the second, I decided to man up and just try the local methodist church.
Now just to give a bit of a background into this, the only church I have regularly attended was a rather contemporary, pentecostal church. I have therefore had very little experience with all the other denominations out there and had absolutely no idea what to expect from today’s service. I knew, at least from their website and the facade that the church appeared quite traditional – stained glass windows, impressive stonework etc.
If you’ve never been to a methodist church before (and I certainly hadn’t) then imagine this: The setting is impressive. The hall is lined with pews arranged in three sections. There are stained glass windows to the left and right, impressive pieces in the shape of an arch. The pastors, the choir and an organ takes up the centrestage. Beautiful reliefs are carved on the walls framing the altar. All the clergymen are in white robes and the choir is similarly decked out in black robes with green trim.
The service itself ran a little like this: There was a prayer at the start, followed by hymns. The lyrics to the hymns had to be found in a book which was placed on the pew in front. There was a lot of sitting and standing. The sermon was to the point and the whole service was short – we were done in about an hour. I spent quite a bit of time copying what other people were doing. Let me tell you that it was completely out of my comfort zone! Yet it turned out to be a very interesting and eye-opening experience, and I was glad that I went after all.
The best part was after the service and I not only finally got to talk to some people, but also had some amazing American food. The church had put on a little barbecue to welcome the students back. This, I think, is where being part of a church community is amazing. I finally had a chance to get to know people. People who were genuinely friendly and came up to talk to you – so important when you are new to a place! The BBQ was also an eye-opening experience. I don’t know if Americans know this, but you really can’t get this style of food elsewhere! We had pulled pork which, based on a little Google-ing, is basically wood-smoked pork. The taste is hard to describe, but take my word it was good!
Anyway, to cap off this rather long, rambly post, I now know a couple more people in this city and I think they’re having a book club thing on Wednesday night which I might check out. I don’t know if this is the church for me – will have a look around a little more before I decide – but I was glad that I tried something new. If nothing else, it was a really interesting experience and it’s always good to challenge your comfort zones.
Hope you had a fantastic Sunday!
p/s: It also turned out that I didn’t need to get worried about what to wear. A good many people were there in a shirt and pants, but quite a few were also in tees and jeans.