Let’s Have Church… Sunday 1Published by Torrence Glenn on Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 10:54 pm.
Sup folks. So I put myself out there last week and now I have to show and prove. So here goes, but before I begin, let me get this out of the way. This blog is called “The Gospel According To Torrence” and with that I will express MY opinions, MY views and although gospel is in the title, nothing I say is law. So get all your little sensitivities and such in check. We all know there’s no perfect church and if there were one, it wouldn’t be perfect anymore once WE joined it. So with that said, be clear, I’m looking for the perfect church….for ME! Now let’s start the show! HA!
Sunday, August 23, 2009 Torrence is going BACK to church.
Now literally, the day before I still had not decided where I was going. I reached out to some friends in and out of town and had gotten a few recommendations. An artist friend of mine from the south (one of the folks getting on me about church) recommended a particular church in Queens and although he’d never been to the church, had known the Pastor for some time and felt confident that if nothing else, the word would be good. He also placed a phone call to an artist in the area (who used to be a premier choir soloist) who’d been there and she co-signed that I might enjoy it. So by Saturday evening, my plans had been set. I googled the address of the church and looked at few clips on youtube. Since I couldn’t find a website for the church (churches, get a website!), I got a little nervous because although there’s a common start time for most churches, some differ a bit and others change things up for the summer season. I called the church’s published phone number but the recording sent me straight to a series of voice mailboxes. But I refused to make not knowing the start time be an excuse. I decided to go with the old school start time of 11am and if I was a little early or late, so be it.
Sunday morning rolls around and I decide to give myself an hour to get there since it’s in a part of Queens that I’m not completely familiar with; and since I’d be taking public transportation I’d need to give myself some time. Typically though, the ride shouldn’t have been more than 45 minutes (which is not too long in NYC terms). Well, this particular Sunday morning turned out to be quite different. There was track work on every train line that there could have been to get me to this church and my commute time more than doubled. I didn’t get to the church until around 12:10 pm and my goal was 11am! But guess what, this church has a 12 noon service and I was right on time!
In The Beginning…
I walked in and was greeted by a very nice usher who smiled, handed me a program/bulletin, confirmed that it was just me (“how many people?”) and directed me to my seat….IN THE 4th ROW!!! Now this is the good and bad part of getting to church on time; you get a good seat, but I really didn’t want one. I think I may have wanted to hang out in the back a little, but it was roped off. And I KNEW better than to try and go against the usher. A church usher can easily go from sweet to salty in less than 10 seconds. Immediately after being seated, I noticed the slightly multi-culturalishness (my word) of the church. Yes, it was primarily a Black congregation, but I was seated next to a Caucasian brother and turned to look at the band to also see an Asian brother laying it DOWN on the bass. Hear me! (And yes, when it comes to church and salvation, I call EVERYONE brother, because we’re all in the same family, so if you got a Black Power spirit, leave it at the door next to the floaties for the deep ones.) So I thought, “oh this will be good, a nice little mix but still giving me the Black church experience I’ve grown to love.”
Praise & Worship
So after surveying the land so to speak, I took notice that I was right in the middle of Praise & Worship (P&W from here on out). I REALLY enjoyed the leader’s style and voice. It was rather unique. Imagine Nicole Rae and/or Yummy Bingham singing P&W songs. It wasn’t a typical voice, but my goodness could she sing! She was also really sincere and didn’t spend a lot of unnecessary time trying to FORCE us on our feet, or to clap our hands, etc. (It’s so annoying…) She had some very young ladies backing her up and it took me back to when I was a pre-teen. It was the age where singing in parts or being able to find your part was easy for some and lost on others. I would have LOVED to hear them kind of back her up a bit more strongly, but the 4 singers and one note/part would have to do. More importantly, seeing young people take an active role in the service trumped their missing harmony. They’re young enough to learn it later, although NOW would be the time to start for them. (Sorry, the choir director in me will never die! Lol)
The Walk Out
They sang, they shouted, they welcomed, we gave, etc. etc. etc. And then… the “Walk Out.” The walk out is the part of the service where in many churches today, you finally get to see the Pastor. There are very few churches left where you see a Pastor and his “staff” (armored bear handler adjutancy abracadabra, etc.) in church for all of P&W. I generally attribute this to the multiple services that many churches have and that’s usually the only time the Pastor has to pull himself together from one service to another. I’m gonna go with that this time too, since I could see from the bulletin/program that there had been an 8am and 10am service too. But I’ll say this, I think I’d still like to see a Pastor at least once be around for P&W. More on that later.
The presider let’s us know that service will be taking a bit of a turn today and that the Pastor will explain once he gives his remarks. I could tell from the “walk out” that today might have a guest preacher. A little bummed, not because of the guest, but because it meant I wouldn’t get to actually hear the Pastor, which to me, is part of the experience, but what could I do? It’s not as if they said “Ooh Torrence is coming, let’s bring a guest in.” (ha!) Before that though, the choir was to give a selection. They straight JAMMED to Hezekiah Walker’s “Souled Out.” The choir director/soloist had some growls it seemed he had been waiting all week to get out, so he unleashed ALL of them on us… I wasn’t mad at the choir. They were… good.
So next, the Pastor makes his remarks and acknowledges the visitors, especially a particular visitor in attendance that happens to be running for local political office; who happened to be the White guy sitting next to me. Guess I was on the “visitor’s row.” (Better that than the mourner’s bench, hehehe) The Pastor then goes on to explain that there would be a guest preacher today and how he had blessed the other services and how awesome he was. But BEFORE THAT, there would be a sermonic solo.
Next, a young lady whomI believe was also a guest sang a solo version of Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise” that was quite interesting. Her range was ridiculous, a true soprano, but she sang it like she was in the choir and not doing a solo. It was definitely a different sound for me. Her sincerity though was golden and I’d love to hear her sing something else to find out more about what her style is.
Finally, the Word! Multi-culturalism is the word of the day because the preacher of the hour was an older White gentleman who through the service shocked all of us with his DANCE. I enjoyed him before he ever got up to speak, because at any moment, he would bust out with a modified running-man/roger rabbit praise like I had never seen before! It was serious! Despite his appearance, this man definitely preached in the traditional style that “we” know. He reminded me a lot of RW Shambach and Morris Cerullo. (remember them???) He had some cool stories about preaching in over 70 something countries and meeting heads of state.
Next: altar call, and final remarks, and oh yes… another offering. The Pastor called for 30 of us to give a seed, blah blah blah blah. (I get the principles of giving and all that, so don’t try me with all the deep stuff.) These extra offerings typically cause me to tune out and I probably did, because I don’t even remember if he got the number he was asking for… But then again, this goes back to the “walk out.” Many times, I don’t believe Pastors/Preachers realize how long they keep us in service because they weren’t there for the whole thing. They’re just getting started after we’ve already wound down… So yes, the service did run a bit long, about 3 hours. I think I naturally shut down around 2 ½ hours or so, so the rest is a blur.
So, I may go back in a few weeks to check them out again and to hear the Pastor preach, but next week I’ll be hitting a new spot to see “what thus sayeth the Lord.” (Ha!) And perhaps my best friend who was supposed to come with me won’t oversleep. (So now he can’t blame me or use me as an excuse for missing his own service, he didn’t make it to either one! hmmm. ) But tell me, how was church for you this past Sunday? Would you give the church I went to another shot. Talk to me folks…