Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fish Out Of Water


For a few years now our church has partnered with an inner city church in Inglewood (Faithful Central Bible Church) for outreach to the City of Los Angeles. Once a year our church has a combined service with Faithful Central at The Forum (formerly home of the L.A. Lakers) where they meet for worship. We haven't gone on those days because they did not offer Nursery Service and we didn't think Marlie could sit still and be quiet for their 2 and 1/2 hour service.

But for a while now we've been wanting to visit them. Especially since Marlie is a little older now. We decided this past Sunday to attend their church service. If you want to get a quick picture of what their services are like, CLICK HERE for a 40 second clip.

Haven and Seamus were both uncomfortable being dropped off in classes at a different church with a bunch of kids they didn't know. In fact, Seamus looked so scared that we second guessed whether we should drop him off or keep him with us. But we went ahead and left for the service. Marlie stayed with us.

The music was awesome! The Bishop was a bit like James Brown in his sermon delivery, which while not at all what we're used to, was still very cool. We were greeted by a bunch of other church goers who were all very welcoming to us. Yes it's true... it was very different from our Presbyterian Church service. Since we're the "Frozen Chosen" and everything. Not really used to people yelling out praises during the service and especially during the prayers. Not really used to people jumping up and down and raising their hands and dancing in the aisles. Nope... doesn't happen so much in the Presbyterian Church. But we loved it. We really did. Marlie clearly does not have Presbyterian blood in her and was very eager to clap along with the congregation throughout the service.

Haven wasn't thrilled with his class, mainly because for 3rd grade, it was set up like a college lecture. The teacher looked like he was in his 80's and the kids just had to sit down and listen to the lesson. Haven said the other kids were very interested in him and asked him how he felt about being "white". He was pretty surprised by that question and just said he didn't care what color he was. He told them he had a brown-skinned sister like them. He did make some friends but didn't like the "school" part of the Sunday School.

Now Seamus was the one we had been worried about the most. When we walked into his classroom, he was on the floor playing with a bunch of kids. He had the biggest smile on his face when he saw us and told us he had such a great time, he can't WAIT to come back! He told us about all the friends he made.

Faithful Central is a bit far to attend regularly and we really do love our home church. But we want to try to visit Faithful Central at least a few times a year. Marlie is going to spend a good percentage of her life as the fish out of water. It will be good for her (and us) to have experiences where she fits in and we're the ones who don't.

And who knows... maybe some of their praise & worship practices will rub off on us... perhaps one day we'll be able to raise our hands in praise during the service. Ok, maybe just one hand. Ok, maybe not so much of a raised hand, maybe more like an upturned hand held close to our bodies for a couple of seconds before we put our hands down. Baby steps.


  1. Thanks you so much for the very interesting post. What a great experience for you and your family ! We Reform Jews are Frozen Chosens as well, plus our services take forever, particularly when a bar or bat mitzvah is included. Imagine: two hours or more boring music in a minor key paired with prayers and readings in a language (Hebrew) that sounds like you're constantly coughing up hairballs. We Jews could benefit from the more demonstrative style of the charismatics and/or the shorter services of the mainline Protestants. perhaps you could use your "leisure time" to serve as a consultant :-)

  2. Awwww, Haven. He's gone and melted my heart again. So much old-soul wisdom in such a young man. Which, of course, is a beautiful reflection of you and Marshall.

    And Julie. Your writing. It melts my heart, too. You're such a perfect blend of wit and depth. Thanks for starting my morning right.

  3. I love this post. About 6 or 7 years ago when I lived in a different town, the church I attended got together with a local black congregation twice a year. Our choir would sing at their church and our pastor would deliver the sermon. Then we would reverse it at our church. I LOVED the music and how enthusiastic their worship was. And of course, down South, they cook the most amazing food and invited us for an after-service "fellowship." We Baptists like to eat!

  4. I am from a southern pentecostal church originally. Dancing in the aisles, yelling, screaming, healings with people falling over, snakes and demons be damned. Worship so loud you'd leave with your ears ringing. But being raised that way, I could sleep through it, there would be a lady screaming and hollering...I'd sleep at about Marlie's age. IF they have a healing service, it is interesting to watch.

  5. Awesome - sounds so lively....

  6. I have never heard the phrase, "Frozen Chosen" - that seriously cracked me up!

    We are members of a Presbyterian church as well. We're actually not Presbyterian - we call ourselves Reformed Baptists. And we're the only Baptists in our church, which kind of makes us a little like a square peg in a round hole. But that's okay - we're used to it! :D

    The people love us and we love them. We just differ on baptism and have chosen not to make that a "doctrinal fence" - so to speak . .

  7. Very cool Julie. We were looking for a church to call home last year and diversity was important to us. We ended up somewhere in between so I think we'll probably seek out something like what you've found as well. It's great that your family sees the value in stepping outside of your comfort zone. It's not easy and I admire you for it.

  8. Awww, who knows you might get more comfortable over time and partake in a victory lap or walk a pew! I'd like to see that video.

  9. My kids attend a Catholic school and have been sitting through the Catholic Mass since they were tiny. I would bring books, paper and crayons with me to try to keep them from being too noisy. They both serve at the Altar now and I still cringe when I see them yawning or fidgeting. Several years ago when my daughter was 4 and my son was 6 we attended a Pentecostal Worship service at the invitation of a co-worker. The kids loved the energy of it but I was like you...too many years of prayers said by rote prevented me from getting into the groove of it. My clapping was pathetic in comparison. Afterward my daughter kept asking why it was okay for the "brown" people to be so noisy in Church when I would admonish her and her brother for having ants in their pants. I still don't have a good answer for it.

  10. Wow, a 2 1/2 hour service? I'd be figeting and noisy by the end of that one, too ;) I'm glad they enjoyed themselves but ... I'm with you on the quiet reflection part of services. It's what I'm used to and comfortable with.