A Tale of Four Churches

I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) as did my wife. I was homeschooled until my Junior year of High School, and my mother used almost exclusively Rod & Staff materials, so I was also heavily influenced by Mennonite thought growing up. Bible study eventually led me to reject certain SDA beliefs. However, one of the things that I retained is the simple belief that the Sabbath ought still be honored.

In fact, this belief is responsible for my later rejection of other SDA beliefs. I found SDAs to engage in the same justifications, obtusifications, and unteachings on say, head coverings, as they rightly pointed out when others attacked the idea that the Sabbath ought still be honored, and is still the same day of the week it was when Jesus walked the Earth.

And while I believe that the Sabbath ought be honored, I have no problem with attending church on Sunday. The Sabbath can be honored without attending church. Yet, as a matter of preference and convenience, all else being equal, I would choose to worship on Sabbath rather than honor the Sabbath and then worship on Sunday.

I share this background because I am searching for a church.

I’ve already mentioned my first 2 rules:

Rule #1 of my search for a church–must proclaim Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh, and be the only path to salvation. Rule #2–all congregations under the leadership of female “pastors,” “priests,” and “bishops” are automatically disqualified.

Now my observations from the first 4 churches I visited in my church hunt.

The first was a little Seventh-day Baptist church. We arrived in time for the “Sabbath School,” and found only the preacher and one other person present. No one else arrived until it was time for the sermon, and then one other family and a pianist showed up. My wife was the only woman covered. The sermon was milk, and was read off a piece of paper. There was no sense of worship, wonder, awe, or reverence. No communion was served, nor was any announcement made of when it would next be served–an issue for one who believes he ought to participate in the body of Christ regularly.

The second was a small Antiochian Orthodox church. We did not go to the regular worship service, but to the Saturday evening Vespers service. All the seats would have been filled, except that most people were standing gathered towards the front. The singing/chanting of prayers and scripture was beautiful and reverent, and indeed the entire ceremony seemed designed to engender worshipful and reverent behavior. About 50% of the women and girls were covered. No Eucharist was served, but it was made clear that it would be available at the Sunday liturgy. The priest’s message was simple, but relevant to Christian living.

The third was a small Seventh-day Adventist church. The church was about a third full, and there were two other men present. There were two High-School age kids, and after them their parents would have been far and away the youngest ones present (other than my family). None of the women other than my wife were covered. There was no sense of wonder, awe, or reverence–even the two hymns that were sung were played so slowly that they felt mournful. The sermon was preached by a 50 year-old-ish woman with a man’s haircut, and was titled “Jesus is a Good Friend.” No communion was served, nor was any mention made of when it would next be served.

The fourth was a Roman Catholic church. After the brutal experience at the SDA church, I was hoping to go back to the Orthodox church for vespers again, but I wasn’t able to. I then wanted to go somewhere Sunday morning, but was again unable to. So Monday morning we went to a Roman Catholic church (does any other denomination offer services every day of the week?) The service was in a small side chapel, rather than the main sanctuary, and the chapel was about 3/4 full. Naturally, with it being during the work day, the congregation was all older. My wife was the only woman covered. Eucharist was served, and there was a lot of kneeling.

I am still looking at various other churches in the area, and deciding where else to visit. Yet I hope to stop visiting and find a permanent home for myself and my family soon.

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