With the Swedenborgians on a two-week hiatus, I thought I’d try worship elsewhere, and had my father’s mother’s ancestors in mind when I tried a nearby church, since this would be the church they would have attended had they visited Washington in 1904.
Well, I’ll never get that hour and a half back. Here are some of the things that put this church on my “never again” list.
- I knew it was a bad sign when the service was scheduled for a half-hour later than usual for that church, supply preacher notwithstanding. (I went to grab a cup of coffee and a bagel, and ran into Terrance’s husband and their son, and gave them a second shot.)
- There were six visitors, myself included, and this couldn’t have more obvious. We were the one in short sleeves and were a third the age of the dozen or so members in attendance. Even so, we were shuttled to the visitors book (acceptable) but then were singled out by name and asked to wave. (Unacceptable.) I left my address so I’ll report back if I get anything in the mail.
Mind you, I’ve been to this church four times before, and had lunch with its settled minister once. But that doesn’t stop them from not remembering me, even to say “I believe you’ve been here before.” All the visitors bolted after the service, in part no doubt, because there was no direction to the promised coffee hour. (The members milled and visited, and the supply minister stood by the wrong door, or rather a convenient door, because it was the way out.)
- This church appears to be on the conservative side of a liberal denomination. I say appears because every sermon I’ve heard there is of the post-Vietnam social justice variety. We’re invited to follow the example of (a) a Biblical figure and (b) some oppressed person. Some half-hearted emotional arm-twisting follows, and at the end the congregation is “challenged” to make a life-changing move. Many of my readers know this kind of preaching, and from the deadened looks of the congregation today, so did my pew mates.
- The order of the service was complicated, involved flipping through their hymnal at least ten times, and the hymns were long and keyed for castrati.
- If I never see another ill-fitting, bargain-basement “cassock-alb” again it will be too soon.