January 19, 2009

Church Experiment #3: Union Baptist Church

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new world record: Two hours and 35 minutes.

I hadn’t been to many churches before I began this experiment, but is this normal? 130 minutes last week and 155 minutes this week. That’s a lot of church.

I had a lot of apprehension going into this week. One, I decided to attend a “black church” (that is how the church describes itself on their website). I had no idea what that meant. Did white people attend? Would it be weird if a white person showed up?

Two, after the pastor from Christian Life Center posted a negative comment on my blog, I was nervous he would “tip off” my next church, and they would have a bouncer waiting for me at the front door. [Did I really think that back then? I don’t believe myself.]

Three, I really wanted to like this church. I didn’t want any negative comments to be seen as racist. And after two somewhat negative weeks, I didn’t want this whole experiment to turn into a super-negative, hyper-critical exposé on the Christian Church. That was never my intention. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and experience God. So far, I was 0-2.

But Union Baptist Church (www.union-baptist.net) was exactly what I needed. Despite the service being way too long, I finally found myself in a church I enjoyed.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.


random blogger said...

steve, i took a class in college called "Worship" and the bulk of the lecture was to discuss the required field trips which included experiences in a reformed jewish synagogue, black baptist, greek orthodox, and a few others i don't remember. i guess the ones i don't remember were the blah experiences that apparently were insignificant. anyway, the most vivid memories are from a black baptist church in Lexington, KY. the service lasted 3 hours and the sermon was a classic African American example of sweeping through the entire Bible. i have never met such genuinely friendly people in church (even to this day). i am axious to hear about next week as my background is UM.

Liz said...

I tend to enjoy traditional rituals, like singing hymns and reciting the Lord's Prayer together as a congregation. I think it's rather powerful to partake in rituals that have been performed by Christians for centuries.

I will say, though, that the one and only time I went to a Catholic mass, I felt horribly out of place. I'm pretty sure I did not hear one word of the mass because I was so nervous about being standing up when I was supposed to be kneeling and vice/versa.

Rituals can feel exclusive to newcomers (and perhaps can become too routine for the weekly attender), which is why I assume most contemporary churches don't do them.

RA Cook said...

A few things:
1. Please don't stop doing this.
2. The pastor of CLC responded. How cool is that! His language didn't seem exactly designed to facilitate discourse, but whatever way to show up.
3. There's some stuff about black spirituality that we miss in our latte churches. I grew up a lot in this regard when out of random demographic chance a Young Life club I was helping start was about 60% black at first. There's a lot of stuff we've come around on (community, social justice) that still feels kind of grafted on. Not so in the black church.
4. I know what you mean about how amazing it is to see young black kids starting to believe the promise of america. Racism is kind of the original sin of our country and a black president is good for that.
Incidentally as a white former jock I'm pretty much required to like Outkast. There's a line in Aquemini where they say "(The kids) need words like "maybe," "if," and "probably" more than a hobby." No less a thinker than Andre 3000 is pointing to the transformative nature of aspiration.
4. "If McCain had won..." Intellectual honesty is good.

DanThoms said...

I must admit, I have just as much of a problem with talking about Obama at church as I do any other president and singing the national anthem at church has never sat well with me.

That aside, this sounds like a great church. I greatly enjoy the so called black baptist worship services, even if they do seem to last forever.