Let’s Have Church, Part Deux

Published by Torrence Glenn on Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 7:48 pm.

Sup folks.  Sorry for being so late with this, but Sunday was long and Monday was no slouch either!  But a promise is a promise, so here we go.

Sunday, August 30 Torrence went to church again! Yay me! Ha!

Anyway, this particular Sunday I had to be strategic in my choice for service.  I had plans to go to brunch in Harlem at a new spot called Gospel  Uptown where 3 of our favorite finalists from Sunday Best were performing.  Jessica Reedy, Latice Crawford and Zebulon Ellis did their thing, but I’ll talk about that in tomorrow’s blog.  But anyway, there was no way I was going to miss hearing them sing live so I had to plan this particular Sunday just right.  Honestly, I thought about skipping church altogether. Between brunch and a concert later that evening, I’d figure I’d have my fill.  But THAT’S exactly what got me here in the first place, so I pushed on (although Bedside Baptist was calling my name!).  So yeah, back to planning this thing just right.  I decided to attend a church in Brooklyn that I had been assured would have me out in enough time to make it uptown for brunch. 

*sidebar* Say a special word of prayer that I, Torrence Glenn, will eventually stop procrastinating and get off of my rusty lower parts and finally learn to drive.  Help Lawd! *Now back to your regularly scheduled blog…*

When I went to the church’s website (every church needs one), I saw that like last week’s church, there was an 8am, 10am  and Noon service. Brunch was at 1pm, so I knew that noon was out of the question and 8am is just that….8am.  I typically only get up that early for a flight!  So I chose the 10am service.  At about 9:59, I arrive at the corner of the block and begin to mentally pat myself on the back for being on time.  After I got over myself I looked toward the church and noticed people literally RUNNING across the street, rushing to get inside.  I thought to myself that this had to be a good sign. 

In The Beginning

I walk in and am greeted by a nice usher who offers me a program and walks me to my row.  Ushers in 2009 have come a LOOONG WAY, because I tell you, those used to be some of the nastiest attitude having people in the world.  I mean, I would too if I had to stand up all service and watch where everyone was sitting, but like grandma used to say “you can quit if you want.” I take the program and sit in the seat offered to me.  The sanctuary was about halfway full but if was filling up pretty quickly.  I looked at my blackberry and it was about 10:03 (yeah, I’m nitpicking) and the P&W team seemed to be at the end of their first or second song, so I’m thinking although service starts at 10, the church begins P&W a little bit before.  The P&W team were a group of about 9 classically and/or professional trained singers.  That’s when it hit me.  This church, although not mega and supersized, was quite professional overall.  I looked around and realized that everyone serving had a job to do and treated it like one.  Then I noticed a lot of familiar faces from the entertainment and music industry (not necessarily the gospel industry), as well as quite a few socially important folks from the community.  Oh shoot, I was at VIP church! (Ha!)

Praise & Worship

The church band was serious.  Keys, Drums, Bass and Lead Guitar? Check.  But it didn’t stop there.  There was also cello, violin, and viola! (My momma played viola, she’d be proud.) The organ (one of the prettiest Hammond B-3’s you’ll ever see in your life) was left empty which hurt my heart. I’m a sucker for an organ!  So anyway, P&W was good overall.  They sang very “pretty” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a little different.  Unlike last week’s church, the harmonies were tight (again, these were professionals) but I felt as though there was just a little bit more they could have given me.  On the worship songs they sounded beautiful, but it’s a little bit of an adjustment to hear Hezekiah Walker’s “Lift Him Up” in a mix of falsetto and head voice.  There was one tenor I watched the whole service that I could tell wanted to let loose REAL BAD, but he knew he couldn’t.  He may want to joint a community choir to let that big voice get some exercise. Funny thing about P&W here is that the audience could be split into three groups. Group 1 were the “standers.” They literally just stand there because they believe it’s the proper thing to do, not necessarily because they want to. Then there are the “clappers.” The clappers here do what I call the “happy clap.”  You know how overly seasoned Pentecostal folks (like myself) clap top to bottom with a little attitude?  Group 2 didn’t quite clap that way. I was afraid to clap along, because it would have been LOUD. They were a little sophisticated for my clap! (ha!) The third group were the more typical group split between the other two.  Some standing, some clapping, and just enjoying it overall.  It was just interesting to see. I was a bit nervous to stand up, but I did eventually because they sang one of my favorite Ricky Dillard songs. The reason I was afraid to stand up is because I felt so tall in there!  Did I exceed the height requirement or something? (ok, I’m rambling…)

The Walkout

Interestingly enough, there really wasn’t one that I could notice.  The presider of the service sat in the audience during the entire P&W portion and I’d later notice that the preacher had been sitting there as well.  Very nice!  The presider performed the usual duties. Greeted the congregation, welcomed the visitors, instructed us to say good morning to the folks on our row, etc.  but she did it without much fuss.  You guys know what it’s like when you go to church and the leaders act as if they’re mad at you for some odd reason and telling you off via “come on and give God a praise” is gonna make everything better.  This woman didn’t do that at all. 

She then transitioned right into the offering.  She instructed us that on this particular Sunday that there would be two offerings. The second would be for the morning speaker who was a son of the church and was entering his last year of seminary. There was no amount set, no special requests made. She was clear: aside from the normal offering there would be another for the speaker. Case closed, good night, and good luck! (Ha!) So I pull out my two offerings, the ushers quickly come down the aisles with “baskets” I had never seen before.  They were like these soft velvet bowls with gold metal rims. Imagine a big Crown Royal bag held open by a large gold ring. (Pretend you don’t know the Crown Royal bag looks likeif you wanna.)  The offering was QUICK. They took both of those offerings up in less than 5 minutes, LITERALLY.  I think there’s something to be said for getting rid the “table walk.”  Is there any research on full service vs. self-service offerings? (LOL)

I also noticed that in the true Baptist tradition (at least the one I know) that the music department had a song for everything.  I kind of liked that too.  It seems like in recent years, the choir literally only has to prepare 1 song for the entire service, and everything else is sung during P&W. Although I believe church should be a corporate experience, a little “performance” from the choir doesn’t hurt. Bonding and singing along with the congregation is great and all, but sometimes you want to hear the folks whose job and gift it is to sing, sing. Junebug in row 5 isn’t a singer and didn’t rehearse Thursday night. The choir did so let’s hear them! (Ha!) This church made sure the “ensemble” (I’m told the choir is good, it just wasn’t their particular Sunday) had a song prepared for each major shift in service: The welcome had a song (and not one of those “Smile God Loves you dittys), the offering had a song, etc.

The Word

After offering, the presider returns to introduce the speaker.  She explains that the pastor is on his vacation and that one of the associate ministers who grew up in the church would be bringing the sermon. The ensemble sang another song and the preacher was up.  He was relevant, funny, and brief. (Loved that!) The title of his message was a simple one: “God Is Faithful.”

Soon after, the presider returned to offer an altar call/invitation to Christ/Membership combo.  She turned the service back into the hands of the preacher and we were dismissed just like that!

So again, I think I need to go one more time to hear the actual pastor preach. I’m wondering if they’re avoiding me or something!

How was church for you this past Sunday? And like always, let me know what you think?

I’m out for now!


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Jennifer L. Said on

Hey there T,

It sounds like you’re still “in search of a church”. How about visiting my church in Queens on Sunday? This Sunday is First Sunday so it will be Communion Sunday. It is also the Sunday when the Male Usher Ministry will be serving as only they can. It’s wonderful to see brothers, in full regalia, serve in church. As our Pastor says, serving in the Lord’s House and not the “Big House”. I promise you, you’ll be in for a treat.

Email for particulars: name of church; name of pastor(s); location; service time. Hint: ESSENCE magazine dubbed our music ministry the best in NYC a few years ago.

__Jennifer L.

ATL (aka) Natural Peach Said on

just wanted to say , I enjoy the blog, its good to know you can hear positive things absout the church. Some folks make it seem so boring,but I love having a good worship service,there ins nothing like it.

Reg Said on

Wow. After reading your blog it just reminded again on how drug dealers can sell Crack just a few feet away from a black church. It has nothing to do with the Gospel. It’s all about intertainment! Cheers!