A few weeks back I decided I would attend my grandma’s church for a Sunday service after she asked me a few concerning questions about Catholics. I thought that her church might possibly be brainwashing and spoon feeding crazy ideas concerning Catholics to the congregation. I am not too far off. You never know what you’re going to get in the semi-rural and rural South about non-Protestant Christians. For all I know preachers are telling their congregants that Catholics are agnostic, Catholics don’t believe in the New Testament, Catholics are the anti-Christ and Catholics are image worshipers (this one can really get people worked up for some reason). So I decided I needed to visit grandma’s Presbyterian church for good measure. Instead of an anti-Catholic church I found that this church was very welcoming, the congregants tried to rope me into being a choir member, congregants trying rope me into being a church member, learned why a church needs back up measures when technology fails and that this church considers itself ecumenical.
So, first things first. Grandma’s Presbyterian church calls itself the Evergreen Church. I really don’t think this is a reflection of how eco friendly the church is. I think it’s a clever branding name to attract millennials to the church. I’m not sure if this is working. The congregation was filled with seniors and families. As for the church, it’s large and simple with large congregation (nothing close to the size of the local Catholic congregation). As for the people, very friendly and welcoming. I mean really really friendly and welcoming, the, “I’m really excited to meet you!” Kind of friendly.
The friendliness became apparent when I drove in the church parking lot. At the entrance of the parking lot stood a man and a boy gleefully waving at me. I thought they were there to give parking directions and ,there for, thought they were trying to flag me down when I drove by. Instead of following my car they stood by the entrance and enthusiastically waved at every car that drove through the entrance like two statues with only their arms enthusiastically moving.
The welcoming atmosphere continued as I walked into the church when I was greeted my several congregants and handed several worship guides. I walked into the sanctuary, took a seat and started praying the rosary until grandma showed. As I prayed several older people came over to welcome me. I quickly learned that they were part of my grandma’s Bible study group at church. When the Bible study members learned that I was related to grandma I was introduced to the rest of the Bible study class that turned out to be grandma’s social group at church (and at the senior living home). When grandma arrived I was introduced the same people again and a few other new faces. Grandma and I latter had brunch with the same people at the senior living home (grandma, did I meet that man at church?).
Shortly after meeting Grandma’s church social group and after Grandma tried to get me to sign up the church email list serve, the service began. The service was similar to a Methodist service: simple with a readings from the Bible, preaching, hymn singing, prayer and no Communion (for this particular service). Everything went well until the projector stopped working. This is a key detail. They lyrics for the hymns were projected onto a large screen by the pulpit with no hymnals to be found. So when the projector stopped working half though the service, three fourths of the congregations was left in awkward silence while one fourth of the congregation and choir kept signing. This happened for the rest of the service. Talk about awkward.
At the end of service as I was talking with a few of Grandma’s friends I was invited to take some Evergreen Church swag and sign up for emails on church events. I didn’t sign up for the emails because we all know what that means. The church is trying to rope you in. On my way with Grandma a woman walked up to me after noticing that I was “new”, introduced herself and asked if I would be interested in joining the choir. She said the choir needed more young people who liked to sing. I tried to explain to her that I was just visiting the church because my Grandma was a congregant and that I attend the only Catholic church in town because I’m Catholic. The woman literally responded with, “Well, being Catholic shouldn’t be that much of a deterrent. Our church is ecumenical. We welcome Catholics.” I thanked the woman and explained that I was just visiting the church and that I wasn’t going to be in town for long. On the up side I was thankful that the woman didn’t outright reject Catholics and that she recognized that Catholics are Christian. The whole, “We’re ecumenical” thing is a topic for another post. At the end of the day I enjoyed the humorous and technologically challenged service.