In the past four weeks, each weekend we have been in a different country. Norway, Scotland, Germany, and USA.
It’s been interesting the very different Churches we have been in.
Stavanger International Church
Our first Sunday on our trip was at my brother’s Church, Stavanger International Church.
This Church worships in English, and gathers a hundred or so folk from every corner of the world. The Church worship was casual, laid back, and contemporary. The thing that hit me about this Church was just how friendly it was.
After the worship service, the Church community went into another room for a time to Connect. not just tea and coffee at this Church. The were a buffet of Malaysian food. My brother told me, different people brought food each week. And I got the feeling, that meant being well fed from different cultures each week.
For me, as I tried to head to the amazing looking (and smelling food), but I got delayed by the people who kept coming to me to Chat. These folk were super friendly and super interesting. The first bloke who spoke to me, was Romanian and worked for Nato, another was from Ghana, another from Fiji and so on.
Clearly, this was a group of people, who at this phase of life (at least) were in Stavanger, and they we very intentional about making deep connections with each other.
Greyfriars Church, Lanark
Easter Sunday was spent at my mum’s church Greyfriars, coincidently, the minister was a friend of mine from when I was a teenager, and before he had decided to follow a path of ordained ministry.
Greyfriars is a traditional Church, and this easter Sunday the Children were staying in the service and I witnessed an amazing kids friendly worship service. This included beanbags for children to sit on, the whole congregation, assembling a chain out of pipe cleaners, the children processing around the church with a cross made of daffodils. a magic trick and a table at the front of the church with theme related crafts for the children to do during the sermon slot.
While this Church probably did have a majority of people over 60, this Church did have people of all ages, and at least this morning, this church was very intergenerational, and in today’s society when people are generally age-segregated, this sort of church service is not just nice, it is necessary, and so beneficial to people’s faith development.
English Speaking Ministry, Wittenberg
Our third weekend was in Wittenberg and fulfilled our religious pilgrinage. On the Saturday evening, we joined the English Speaking Ministry at Schlosskirche: Castle Church. This was the Church where Martin Luther nailed his Thesis to the door.
We sat through a very interesting service, for sure it was traditional, with liturgy, choirs, and bible readings etc. I think we were the typical person in the congregation, I got the feeling this was a gathered congregation for this day only. The hundred or so people were tourists, who wanted to worship in this historically important church.
Riverstone Chapel, Spokane,
Yesterday, we attended the dedication of our relative, Abby Himmes at Riverstone Chapel. It was special to be at this rite of passage, and we appreciated Alex and Izzy scheduling the dedication on the Sunday we were in town.
Riverstone, gathered 80 or so people, mainly young adults, and unbelievable was only in it’s third month since the launch. It was the stereotypical contemporary Church, Coffee and donuts as you arrived, Chruch countdown, 3 songs, a prayer, 35 minutes sermon and a closing song.
This Church reminded me particularly of a typical youth church service, and it makes sense that, young adults, who’s church experience was like this on a Wednesday night for their high school years would crave such a similar worship style on a Sunday morning.
The Church service, worked like clockwork, the pastor was passionate, and no doubt this church has a promising future.
While each of these churches were very different, they all knew who they were, or wanted to reach. Stavanger’s chruch was gathering all the international Christians in Stavanger, Greyfriars valued intergenerational community, Wittenberg was serving the religious pilgrims, and Riverstone, was creating a relevant space for young adults.
While the worship services were very different in style, for each of these congregations, it was very evident the importance they valued on faith in God, worship and serving outside of their community. And other than the unique situation of the Wittenberg church, the others were all very clearly close-knit communities.
And I guess at the end of the day, that is all a church is, a group of Christians doing life together.