Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of attending different churches with friends and relatives as well as by myself. Some churches were huge (Hot Springs, Arkansas) and some had fewer than 30 people (Eagle Point, Oregon).
Friends in Montana took me to the “Bluegrass” worship service. Songs were accompanied by banjo, guitar and fiddle.
In Minnesota, I visited Paul and Janice’s Lutheran church. I loved the liturgy and hymns accompanied by a pipe organ.
While visiting my nephew’s family in Missouri, I got to see my 16-year old great nephew play in the church orchestra.
Massachusetts had some really old churches. I attended a Congregational Church near my campground that was established in 1703. Their building dates from 1837.
Near Sturbridge, Massachusetts, I worshiped with a much newer congregation that had only contemporary music. On the way in, I met another Lorraine who invited me to sit with her. We found much in common besides our names!
In Dubois, Pennsylvania, I was very happy to attend the church of Pastor Mark who I had known in California. He is not only the pastor, but also administrator of the Christian school affiliated with the church. It was great sharing a meal and renewing friendship with Mark, Deb and their family.
In another part of Pennsylvania, I decided to attend Calvary Chapel of Lebanon. This church was in a stately brick building that had been a Catholic school. It was interesting to see a few women with head coverings, and it made me wonder if maybe they had a Mennonite background. I was in Amish and Mennonite farm country, after all.
In the Calvary Chapel I visited near Richmond, Virginia, several men wore suits and ties, including the pastor. The church met in what looked like a former shopping center. The music for this service was hymns only, accompanied by guitars.
On a November Sunday at Bridgepoint church in Gloucester, Virginia, the singing started out with “You Make Me Brave”. I had heard it on the radio but never paid much attention to it. Seeing the words up on the screen kind of got to me and I had trouble getting through the song.
For You make me brave
It’s You who make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
It’s You who make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises You made
People have told me I’m brave, but really, I’m not… just crazy adventurous, I guess. Christmas decorations were beginning to go up around this part of Virginia. I wasn’t feeling very brave that Sunday in rainy cold weather, with trailer water heater troubles. I looked up the song on YouTube later and played it about 10 times. It’s my new favorite.
In North Carolina, I attended a church that was established in 1793. I was in tobacco country. A few folks lit up as soon as they left the church building.
Martin Luther King once commented: “… the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning”. Sadly, I found that to be true as I traveled farther south.
The churches I chose to visit were pretty much the same in format, but with regional differences. It was wonderful being able to worship with people all over the US in many different settings. I always left filled up and glad I went. Folks were friendly and welcoming. Several times, I was invited to stay for coffee and fellowship following the service. It’s encouraging to me to know the Church is alive and well in our country.