July 02, 2006

United Methodist Worship, North Carolina Style

This past Sunday morning the Web Empowered Church team attended two churches to give our guest, Kasper, a taste of different worship services here in North Carolina, US. First we attended the Long's Chapel UMC worship service. This was a modern church building which extended off an original stone building. The sanctuary felt new, with pews on an angled floor, and a beautiful wooden roof having a look of yellow pine. The roof was flat, and angled upward from the corners of the room up to a square center, which raised up to let light in through small windows at the top. It reminded my wife and I of a Catholic sanctuary we visited last year while we were in Wisconsin. Both created a beautiful vertical space that gave a very personal feel to the room, and left you with a sense of awe.

The service was contemporary, with songs that were thoroughly approved by my wife, and we had the pleasure of witnessing a baptism. Everything had a touch of Southern style to it, which is hard to describe here in words other than "a comfort of home." This was the weekend before Independence Day, so the theme was patriotic, along with the sermon. The pastor spoke about church and politics, Chucks favorite topics I might add, and mentioned Jesus' response to paying taxes, "Give to Caesar what is Caesars, and give to God what is Gods." The message, as it should be - simple, hold God above all things in your heart.

The second service we attended was at the Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska, through the South Eastern Jurisdiction. The auditorium was an open gathering hall, originally constructed with a tin roof and sawdust floor. The building we were in now was more modern than that, but still considered strange, with a very high wood roof and this large white structure coming out of the middle, descending down into the center from the ceiling. The only way to describe this thing was it looked it like it could sprout legs and walk off like a some version of the mechanical beast from the movie, Wild, Wild West. The sides of the building were very open, with fans hanging down to cool the inside temperature.

Other than the distraction of analysing the strange structure, I thought the service had a well seasoned choir, and the speaker of the week was William Willimon. He did use some "churchy" words in the sermon, and lightly dusted the sermon with dry humor about the disagreements between liberal and conservative churches regarding whether the Christian church needed a full body resurrection to believe in Christ. It was delivered in good taste, with no names mentioned.

It was wonderful to be able to experience not one but two Sunday services, both of which my wife attended and survived to my surprise, and something I'll be able to remember quite a while.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff, Brian! I've enjoyed hearing about your travels and learning. I know from conversations that we have had that when you say '...with songs that were thoroughly approved by my wife.' it is a big deal, because worship music and style is important to her. That is great that you were able to take have some variety in worship services.

Jim said...

Sounds like an excellent experience. I wish we would take the opportunity to do the same kind of research.

I am in the S. Georgia Conference serving as a youth pastor. I have some questions on my blog that I wouldn't mind having your input on:

Thoughts on the Young People's Address
Music and Worship
Spiritual Life of Ministry

Take care,

Jim Morrow