Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm a church hopper!

Since my placement is an agency rather than a church, I have no formal Sunday commitments. Each week I have been attending a different church in the Memphis area. It's been refreshing but strange at times to have no responsibilities in the services. I've also had the freedom to visit churches of different denominations--Disciples of Christ (Christian Church), Baptist, Full Gospel, and United Methodist. Over the next few weeks, I hope to attend services at United Church of Christ and Messianic Jewish churches.

I think it's always helpful to remember what it feels like to be a visitor to a congregation. I've really appreciated when pastors explain their understanding of various aspects of the service like Eucharist, offering, prayer, song, etc. Little things like signs, notes in the bulletin, and space in the service to greet one another really help a visitor feel welcome. One church even sent me a bag of cookies!

Even though all of the congregations I have visited have been very warm and welcoming, I have felt most "at home" at the United Methodist Church across the street from my placement. Dr. Scott Morris, the founder and executive director of the Church Health Center, is an associate pastor at St. John's UMC in addition to his administrative responsibilities and medical practice. As a dual-degree student in the UM ordination process, it's been great to have a model of how a pastor can be involved in the worship and life of a congregation as well as a faith-based non-profit organization.

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