August 31, 2009

Church Experiment #35: Norwood Wesleyan

Yesterday, I took a walk in the park. Shortly after arriving, I realized I had to use the restroom. Once inside, I noticed most of its walls were made of glass. I feared people outside could see me urinate, but luckily, I’m pretty confident the windows were tinted on the outside.

So, everything was a go. Unfortunately, my shorts got stuck around my hips, and I couldn’t pull them down. I couldn’t hold it any longer, so with very few options left, I started peeing all over myself.

That’s when I looked up and realized the bathroom had transformed into a church. The park ranger (who looked exactly like actor Richard Jenkins) walked in and started preaching. From what I remember, he said some pretty good stuff, but I was the only person in the congregation, so it was hard to focus.

Suddenly, the park ranger’s wife appeared in the room with us and the two took turns preaching. Out of nowhere, his wife turned into a blue, ghostly-looking hologram and said, “God loves you,” in a very strange voice.

Then, Cammie Stinchcomb walked in and took a seat behind me. She didn’t even acknowledge my presence. (Cammie and I went to elementary school together. She was one of the first girls I ever had a crush on.) Frustrated by her snub, I looked at my program and realized there was a second service scheduled at 12:40 PM.

Then, I woke up.

I was immediately reminded of a scene from Waking Life where some dude says, “Did you ever have a job that you hated? Worked really hard at? A long, hard day of work, and finally you get to go home, get in bed, close your eyes, and immediately you wake up and realize the whole day at work had been a dream? It’s bad enough that you sell your waking life for minimum wage, but now they get your dreams for free.”

Fifty-two churches in 52 weeks is plenty. If I start dreaming about church visits, I might snap.

Now, on to my waking experience …

I knew I was in trouble when, an hour into the service, the pastor of Norwood Wesleyan Church (I believe this church has closed since my visit. More on that at the end of this chapter) said, “Most churches would go home right now, but we’re just getting started!” It’s been a while since I visited a church that broke the two-hour mark, but Norwood Wesleyan did just that on Sunday with their 130-minute churchathon.

Norwood Wesleyan hosted a “Round Up” on Sunday, which seemed to be the culmination of a four-day revival. Everyone was encouraged to wear clothing from the Old West (which I did not partake in). Out of the eighty attendees (in a room that sat about two hundred in traditional pews), approximately 20 percent dressed up.

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


Anonymous said...

Why not try some "exotic" Eastern, Assyrian, or Coptic Orthodox churches? How about Eastern Catholic?

BTW my first crush was named 'Kami'. What a coincidence.

Steve Fuller said...


Can you give me an example of one near Cincinnati? A few people have mentioned those denominations, but I'm not sure I know of any.

Anonymous said...

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
7000 Winton Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45224-1331, United States
(513) 591-0030

St. Mina and St. Abanoub Coptic Orthodox Church
1531 King Richard Parkway
Miamisburg, OH 45343-0595

Michelle said...

Ok, I've seen it all now. A nudist baptist church. LOL

Anonymous said...

No Presbyterian churches on your list? You are welcome to try mine, Grace Bible Presbyterian. It has about 300 attendees and is in Sharonville.

DanThoms said...

I think I may hate your for tricking me into clicking on that link. I think I may be sick. I can guarantee you that that is an independent Baptist church and not part of the Southern Baptist Convention :)

Anonymous said...

Tell us, HOW do you find these churches? (The nudist
Baptist church). Too funny!

Leah said...

Apex Community Church in Fairborn is awesome...and they have tons of house churches. I had several friends who were involved in a very unique Apex house church.

Cyndi said...

The nudist Baptist church is a joke, right? Right? Seriously.

My husband and I are moving from Dayton to Olive Hill, Kentucky - my husband's hometown - to help a new church there. A friend of his started a church in April and it's already over 100 people.

The official launch of the church is Saturday, September 12th. We're doing a pig roast and there will be special speakers. And of course we'll have a service the next day at 11:00 am. We serve coffee and Ale-8. (It's a Kentucky pop.)

Feel free to join us for the pig roast and the church service. Not a lot of places to stay, but we could find you a place if you'd like. (And if you're wondering, it's about 3 hours away - by Ashland, KY.)

wendymhall said...

Steve, You are very welcome at my house church, though we are most likely farther away than you want to travel (west coast). And, I'm sorry, we always meet fully clothed.

Jon said...

St. Nicholas in Finneytown is absolutly beautiful ( It has the largest mural of Mary in the world. I grew up right in its shadow. There is also St George Serbian Orthodox Church at 5830 Glenview in the College Hill area.

The Reverend said...

When I first saw the nudey church, my hedonistic mind says "Oh la la!". But then I think about all the people I've seen at church, and I changed my mind rather quickly. . . oh my.

But to your rant, as your Jr. Traveler, I have been having a similar experience. I think I'm about done, actually and will be starting a different project after it.

Pip said...

My churchi s having it's 100th anniversary celebration on October 4th. It's tiny and it's about 2 hrs away from you, but I can send the info if you want it.

Jacqueline said...

I'm making it a point to drive down to Tyler sometime in the near future to check out Nude Baptist for myself. I've just got to know...real or fake.

I still say you need to try to attend an Amish service.

Michael Joseph Sharp said...

I friend of ours recently visited a Unitarian church. Any knowledge about these? From what she said, they're pretty *different*.

Jamie said...

you should contact Professor Habtu Ghebre-Ab in the History department at UC Clermont. I can't remember what the type of church is where he attends, but I do remember him saying that there are only 1 or 2 of this specific religion in Cincinnati.

I also recommend either Potter's House Church of God in Columbus or Princeton Pike Church of God in Cincinnati because they are 2 of the largest in the denomination.

Anonymous said...

Southland Christian Church is starting a church plant in Danville (south of Lexington) next Sunday, Sept 6, after a year-long preparation. I think the services are at 10:00 and 11:30. It will be a "satellite" service, if I understand correctly--a campus minister will handle all the onsite part of the service, and Jon's message will be broadcasted (or simulcasted?) from Southland's main campus. Here's the address and contact info: 1001 Ben Ali Drive Suite 2
Danville, KY 40422
(859) 224-1600
(877) 337-1600
I'll be there helping in the nursery on the fourth Sunday of September and October, but otherwise will be at the main campus. Love your blog!

samarahuel said...

Um, I too am wondering why there haven't been any Presbyterian churches on your list. There is a wide variety of denominations to choose from. I would like to see your opinions of an RCA, PCA, and PCUSA, or at least one of the three. (Those are the three that I am familiar with, PCA being my personal favorite flavor.)

I found my PCA church in Germany though the online directory: The PCUSA also has a church finder: and so does the RCA:

Anonymous said...

I second coming to Grace Bible Presbyterian. It has about 300 attendees and is in Sharonville. I go there, and it's done amazing things to change my life.

DanThoms said...

I think you should visit a church that practices whatever religion it is that Harry Potter is a part of. He can fly and do all kinds of neat magic tricks.

Amanda said...

Hearing what you had to say about Norwood Wesleyan was extremely interesting to me. I attended that church my entire life. Probably 20% of the people there on Sunday were my family members - among others, my dad and grandpa are ushers, my uncle leads worship and my mom and aunt teach Sunday School.
I left the church for a couple of reasons:
1. there were so few people my age 2. the previous pastor taught some questionable things (including that Catholics were not saved, which after attending a Catholic church throughout college and studying the Catholic faith, I had quite a few issues with), although that man left
3. I felt that a lot of the people there lacked genuine-ness. It seemed so tired and like everybody was going there because they always had, not because they genuinely believed in what was being said or lived by the principles of the Bible.
My perspective was definitely one-sided and influenced by my idealized view of what a church should be. Hearing you say that you felt that it was genuine makes me wonder about what I based my previous assumptions on. Perhaps it wasn't all them. Maybe it was me too. Maybe it was just all to familiar to me. I think I'll plan on going back someday soon to reassess.
A few other things I wanted to clarify:
1. the sermon never lasts that long - it was just because of the evangelist. i'd say it typically runs an hour to an hour and a half
2. the guys you assumed were convicts, were not. not all of them anyway. the church has a partnership with the local Salvation Army. As part of a man's stay, they are required to attend church every Sunday. One of the church's in Norwood they mat attend is Norwood Wesleyan. I don't believe that S.A. only takes in former convicts. Although they are definitely the poor and forgotten of society. A lot of people have had issues with them attending the church since the partnership began, but I wish more churches did such things. It's what Jesus told us to do. Church isn't supposed to be comfortable and it isn't supposed to be a safe-haven for the regular attenders. The church is supposed to exist for the people outside of it's walls.
3. They pass out tracts? Since when? I have never seen any of my family members with a tract. Unless you are referring to the postcards they place on neighbors doors inviting them to see the evangelist. I'll have to ask my parents about this....
4. It's Biblical to clap? wtf? I HATE clapping along to songs at church...or at sporting events, or concerts, or any place that this might occur. Although I'd venture to guess that was a lame attempt at humor. I do know the pastor fairly well, despite the fact that I don't attend the church, because he has become good friends with my grandparents and comes to family gatherings and holiday celebrations quite often.

Thanks again for your insights!

Anonymous said...

There is a new church launching this Sunday, Sept. 20th. It's KingWay Community Church. Here is their website:

I'm not a part of this, but read you were interested in attending a church launch on their first meeting.

I love your blog and the Church Experiment you are doing. I think it's great that you are being honest about your experiences.

I go to Lifepoint Vineyard and am glad you had a positive experience there, except for the wrong directions!