This morning, I decided to visit a church that I have driven past hundreds of times in my life but that I have never walked through the door of once. It’s in my hometown and I decided that it was more direct to go to church somewhere there instead of driving to my church and then driving home.
When I woke up this morning, I looked on Google to see if I could find the time that the service started or a phone number so I could call and ask someone. I couldn’t find either. I’ve been going to church for my entire life, so I made an educated guess that the church started somewhere between 10:30 AM and 11:00 AM. I pulled up around 10:40 AM and saw that it started at 11:00 AM and that Sunday school went until 11:00 AM. I drove down the street and filled up with some cheap $1.969 Ohio gas. I went back to the church about 10 minutes before the service was supposed to start.
The door was an old wooden one, painted recently. It had a knob and there didn’t appear to be a lock. I walked into the warmth of the sanctuary. The wooden floor was painted a muted red and my snowy shoes squeaked. There were about a dozen people in the Sunday school class that was meeting in the back few pews of the sanctuary and everyone paused to look at me. One man motioned to a seat in the pew behind him. The woman in front of me handed me the page that everyone was looking at, talking about being light in the world. The man who was teaching Sunday school finished promptly at 11:00, but not before he reminded those that came in at the end that “we could catch the whole Sunday school hour if we there at 10:00 next Sunday”. About another dozen people had begun filtering in and everyone moved up a few pews in the church. I had almost everyone come up and introduce themselves to me and ask me where I came from.
The church had one stained glass window in the front. It wasn’t ornate, but it had been installed in 1928. The chandeliers were newer and brightened the room. The church was just the one room. The building was so old that there wasn’t a bathroom. In fact, there was no running water. The church had set a gallon jug of water on a back table with a few plastic glasses. There was no office, so it dawned on me why I couldn’t find a phone number. There was no phone to call.
It was indeed a friendly group of people though. I counted 26 as the final number in the service. I was obviously the only person who was visiting and during the time of fellowship everyone again greeted me, this time with hugs and stories. One woman, Florri, told me that she had been going to this church since she was four days old. She told me that she would still be going there next time I came by to attend the service.
The hymns were old and slow, perhaps encouraged by the elderly woman who was on the organ. The pastor, fitting my stereotype, had a Garfield tie on and was rather portly and had a rather Baptist aura about him.
To be honest, it was rather charming. There was a sense of Christian community in the small number of believers who were collecting a weekly offering of $77.00 and had an average of age of at least 65. Perhaps a church like that isn’t something that I would want to become a part of for the long term, but it was nice to experience the country feel of the little white church that I’ve always driven past.