December 16, 2006

Worthington SDA Church

Not too long ago, I made a first-time visit to the Worthington Seventh-day Adventist Church near Columbus, Ohio. Nervous about being alone in church for the first time in my life and worried if my simple wedding band would raise eyebrows, I hesitated before pulling open the heavy oak doors against a cold winter’s wind.

After a lifetime of leadership positions in the SDA church, I knew what to look for and what the ‘rules’ were, so I headed straight for the guest book just inside the door and looked around for the “greeter” person to welcome me in.

Sure enough, sweet old Mary rushed over to greet me and watched as I wrote my name, address and phone number in the guest book. That was about the longest minute of my entire life.

After that I was on my own.

“Please turn off all cell phones” was the first message that flashed before me on a big screen over the pulpit as I entered the sanctuary. “Modern-day church” and its big screen advertising took me by surprise! I glanced around for unobtrusive seating. I had already turned off my cell phone!

“Fruit delivery will be here at 5 p.m. Please come help unload the truck” was a message I heard repeated several times before and after the comic-turned-serious-sermon.

I’m sure a small frown crossed my brow because I was certain that sunset – the end of the Holy Sabbath Day – fell somewhere pretty close to 5 p.m. Sure enough, a quick check showed sunset at 5:07 p.m.


If I was concerned about sabbath-keepers breaking the edges of the Sabbath – that was only the beginning of the “New Rules” that I discovered exist for the usually very strict SDA religion I observed for my entire life!

See, I had to take care of a little technicality related to my book, “Dusty Angels and Old Diaries.’ I needed to get my church membership transferred from Berrien Springs, Michigan to somewhere in the Columbia Union SDA Conference (like Worthington, Ohio) so the Visitor Magazine could proceed with publishing an article about the book in the January 2007 issue. I don’t know if this will be a 1x1 inch ad or an entire story, but I did promise the good folks there that I do attend an SDA church in the Columbia Union and, better yet, get my membership transferred once and for all.

I hope the Visitor Magazine nor the church members of the Worthington SDA Church will take offence at my public concern for what I perceived as pretty poor angelic representation at the SDA Church in my city.

Where were all the children? Only two? Oh, they have there own church service now. I counted about 150 people there, but saw no young people except those who played special music, and they filed right out the back door as soon as they were done.


What is that? Can it be? The minister is wearing a flashy gold wedding band? In Michigan, a couple can't get married in the SDA church if they plan to include rings in the service. I couldn’t take my eyes off his hand as he gestured while almost begging for help to unload that fruit truck at 5 p.m.

I was also interested in the organist and the pianist because I’ve played both instruments for church services over the years. I missed the Doxology as the prayerful ministers entered to start the serious church service. In fact, there was no formal entrance of the minister at all. They were seated somewhere on the front row. The program started with some announcements that included (again) help to unload the fruit truck at 5 p.m. and a very long prayer for the offering. There was a missed cue for the special music during the offering collection, and the musician sat back down.

Later, the special music WAS majestic as a woman played the harp and her partner played the violin in a duet. I was mesmerized by the music but intrigued as the woman's fingers sparkled with several rings and diamonds glittered in her ears. Well, I guess no one will complain about my wedding rings. But applause after the duo finished their piece was confusing for me. Were they entertaining us? Then the couple stood and took a bow. This is supposed to be worship to God! Not intertainment for us! I I realize that applause in church is accepted now, but I’ll never get used to it.


I must confess that I got up and moved toward the front of the church so the preacher would not miss me - a visitor. I sat near the isle on a nearly empty pew (3 of us on the pew) about 6 rows back and tried to look him straight in the eye during the entire sermon. I even shook my head in dismay at his funny prelude to the sermon with a comic story of Jesus's birth surrounded by twelve geese alayin, golden rings and dancing women! But, he never noticed me. I know because he didn't recognize me when I shook his hand after the sermon.

One thing that has not changed in the SDA church is the potluck dinner right after church. I noticed the announcement in the program.


(During the announcements, visitors were not welcomed and the potluck was not mentioned. Guess that money-making fruit truck really distracted them.)

But during the sermon, my mouth watered for good old SDA vegetarian food. I figured I could meet some church people and maybe even take a plate of food home to Jim. But I wasn’t invited to the potluck! I hung around the entry area. I looked for the room. I sniffed the air for the aroma of a warm meal, but I got cold feet and left the church before I got the nerve to ask or invite myself.

Going back to the angelic welcome that should be the greatest asset of any church. The only person who welcomed me was sweet old Mary. I got more friendly welcomes at the LeTip meetings in town than at church.

After the sermon that did NOT end in a formal prayer, Mary pulled me toward the pastor for an introduction. He was greeting his parishioners as they left the sanctuary. Well more than greeting. It was a social event that was causing a backup down the sanctuary isle. Three times Mary almost had my hand in his, but three times left his place in line to run after another church member to discuss this or that. (And, where was the pastor's wife? She used to stand next to her husband greeting the members and guests after the sermon, but I guess that went out a loooooong time ago...)

Finally, Mary almost forced her way between the pastor and me.

“I want to introduce… (she couldn’t pronounce my last name)

“Hi. My name is Linda Meikle and I’ve requested a membership transfer to this church.”

“Oh did you fill out the paperwork.”

“Yes, I’ve already spoken to your secretary and I left you a voice message on your answering machine.”

“Well, with almost 800 members, I can’t remember everybody.”

At that Mary pulled me away and said she really hoped I’d come back soon.

I gave her a hug and thanked her for welcoming me to her church.

Getting into my car, I pulled to the edge of the parking lot to observe the standard church attire. Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs is very strict about dress, makeup and jewerly. My family and I always dressed very nice for church. The boys wore suits even when it almost killed them to do so. We bought nice suits for BC when we couldn’t afford it! They were all pressed and laid out every Friday before sundown. It is respect for God that we did that. Or so I always thought.

Today, I had noticed one of the deacons who took up the offering didn’t wear a tie. Only the older men wore suits. Most of the women had nice outfits albeit some wore pantsuits - and that used to be a no-no. Most every woman wore wedding rings and some bracelets, but no necklaces. Only a few wore light lipstick and I didn’t see any real makeup except a few younger women. Short skirts, high heels, jeans, tennis shoes and back packs…

“Maybe”, I mused to Jim on my cell phone as I drove home…”Maybe I could join several churches and be a member of all the churches in town and no one would ever know the difference.” No matter the church, I would always make sure the visitors got a warm welcome and lots of angel hugs.

Take Care on the Journey - and remember to ...Love Your Neighbor...

~Linda

HOME - http://dustyangels.blogspot.com

17 comments:

The Cat's Meow said...

If you want people that are friendly you have to go to a BAR instead of a church. Folks at the bar are kind, friendly and will always welcome yoy back. Also you don't have to sign a guess book, but it does help to tip the bartender good.
Love Ya
Sandy

Clay Feet said...

I found your story very interesting, not only for what it revealed about the church you attended but about yourself in the expectations you had and what you wanted to experience. In my visits to both Adventist and other churches over the past few years I have found a very wide spectrum of styles and environments. Within the Adventist culture there is a great deal of tension and division over the issue of how to worship, what it means, and the heated discussion about formality vs. entertainment.

It is not unusual, but it can be disturbing at times, to enter a large church like the one you attended and experience what you experience. It is very disappointing to not experience acceptance and feel welcome. However, I have felt the same isolation, many times at an even greater level, when attending small but very formal-oriented services. Generally I have found that the issue of feeling welcomed into a group of strangers and included in their service comfortably has much less to do with their style of worship and much more to do with the social awareness or blindness of the people themselves.

Unfortunately, because we tend to equate how we are treated with what we see in terms of worship style or maybe ethnic concentration or other obvious variables, we usually make assumptions about religion or God Himself based on how good or bad we feel when we mix with people who claim to represent Him. This has always been one of His greatest liabilities and the source of much of His pain.

Sandy's comment that people in bars are typically more friendly than those in church is very true. However, there are many churches where you will find genuinely friendly and welcoming people willing to open themselves to care about your heart. In my opinion, the biggest difference between the friendly people in bars and the genuinely friendly people in church who are true Christ-followers is that the first group are generally gathered there to find others to expoit for themselves and the second group, if they are real Christians, are there to care and nurture your heart and soul.

Granted, churches like that can be difficult to find. They don't have obvious labels that make them easy to spot from a distance. But when you find them you will know it. In the early days of the church the signature reputation that made the world amazed about them was the fact that they loved one another - for real. I hope to be known for that myself someday by God's grace.

I am so blessed by your honesty and openness. You have been gifted with a deep resevoir of compassion and nurture. You have been explioted most of your life for that reason but God is not finished yet. In spite of all the hell you have been through He is planning to surprise you with joy beyond your wildest imagination. We love you.

Linda M. said...

Thank-you, Floyd. I've had some personal emails of encouragement along the same lines.

Dan Jones said...

Dear Linda,
I appreciated your comments about my church. I graduated from Andrews University with a BS in zoology in 1985. I have fery fond memories of my years at Andrews and of the countless services (church, vespers, weddings, concerts, etc.) in Pioneer Memorial Church. Perhaps things have changed since my time there. I don't recall being approached by any members of Pioneer for anything more than a handshake. I do not recall the strict attention to attire that you describe...but no matter. I have nothing but great stories and memories of those precious moments and have tremendous friendships to carry with me. I spent the next 4 years of my life in med school at Loma Linda University and can honestly say that I never felt truly coddled by the congregation. I found the service to be like most services. Nothing more, nothing less. To be sure I wasn't carried off to potluck but that was okay. I have lived here in Columbus with my family for 13 years and have enjoyed the fellowship that my church offers. I think it is a misconception that many individuals have that guides them into thinking that they will walk into a church of any religion and immediately gain 10 or 15 invites for lunch and be given the podium to announce their arrival. Our pastors travel frequently and chances are good that you were not receiving a sermon from one of the regulars that might have recognized that you stood out from the crowd as a visitor. I have visited many churches in central Ohio and can't say that any one of them (Non-denominational, Methodist, Baptist, Adventist, Catholic) have offered much in the way of greetings and salutations that would warrant any mention in a letter home to mom. Let's face it, the church is a place for tired and weary souls to come for nourishment. It is a hospital for sick souls. If we were all perfect we wouldn't need church. That would be akin to me running a clinic for migraineurs and booting all the patients who actually complained of headache out of the schedule. Every church does it's best to engage the services of volunteers who are willing to stand by the door on church mornings and offer a smile and a warm hand. I would offer that until we all meet on that beautiful shore we will encounter other Christians who have sadness, chips on their shoulders, pain, envy, and selfishness that precludes them from taking visitors in their arms and engaging them in ways that would be satisfactory to all. Last time I checked the gospels there was no mention of any type of adornment that would keep any of us out of the kingdom. Christ makes some pretty impressive arguments against worrying too much about such things in Matt 6:24-34 but otherwise spends a great deal of time teaching that one of our biggest problems as earthlings is our judgemental bent. I choose not to smoke or drink but I know that even if I did Christ's gift on the cross is sufficient for my salvation. Christ enjoyed people. He spent many hours living it up with friends (Luke 7:34). I know that deep down inside you don't really believe that rings, earrings, robes, prayer rituals, applause or any other superficiality carry any weight in the grand scheme of the salvation story. Are you sure that the last minutes of the Sabbath that Saturday night weren't spent in a wonderful gym vespers. I don't think that Paul was so far off track when he deliberated on these matters in Romans 14:22. CS Lewis portrayed this well in the Screwtape Letters when the Senior Temptor Screwtape wrote to his "beloved wormwood" that wormwood should keep his "patient" searching from church to church so that he would become an expert on churches and therefore miss the whole point of what "church" is. In the end let me just say that I believe that God loves you and He loves me. I believe and live by John 13:34. God asks nothing more of us. We are not on this earth to decide who comes before the altar of God with correct or incorrect motives. That is God's job. What you wear, drink, eat, think, and feel are between you and God. I'd give you a hug if you walked into the Worthington SDA church again. I'd take off my ring if I knew it offended you. I'd personally prepare you a Big Frank Deluxe if I knew that our church would be judged (and globally reported) on such measures. I honestly would wash your feet at the door if that would direct you heavenward. Alas, I submit that the bad taste in your mouth is nothing more than what most Adventists would report. You see, we tend to feel like outcasts. We are sent away to academy at the tender age of 14 or 15 because somewhere along the line somebody thought that we are not of the world nor that we are in the world (such lost opportunity to affect our neighbors and share God's grace in public schools), we are part of a group that makes a big stink at any given restaurant making the overworked waiters prepare something special for us because we aren't typical (don't worry, I am a proud 3rd generation vegetarian...) and we therefore stand out more from the world, we go to church on Saturday (whatever you do don't read Romans 14:5-6) and set ourselves apart claiming that this is the only way to salvation...we become lame. We become impotent in the world. We want to be coddled and cradled in church instead of throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus and asking for forgiveness and healing so that we could be more vital to other folks, other sheep that He loves and gave His life for. We Adventists are less than what we could be and should be. We judge, we condemn, we harass, or we just plainly avoid the poor and needy in spirit that are crying out for love, peace, and hope in this dark and destitute world. I haven't read your book. I don't judge you. I pray that you will find the peace that passes all understanding and that you will know the truth and it will set you free from all the ties that bind you. Sounds cliche and perhaps will be interpreted as holier than thou but I can assure you that my motives are pure and caring. - Dan Jones

Linda M. said...

To Dan Jones...Thank-you for taking time to write such an honest and frank comment. You have given this much thought and I do appreciate it.

The point I most tried to make is the difference of how it(the SDA Church) used to be and what it is now; but what made the biggest impact was my critical, negativeness about not being overly welcomed back to church.

Am I alone in thinking that the church has really changed? This leaves me feeling confused about why I am or was a SDA in the first place. Perhaps I should have never slipped through that big oak door and opened such a can of worms. If what you say is true, it doesn't matter in the end anyway. The SDA church USED to say it really did matter about all those things!

Perhaps there are not very many former SDA church members who actually return to the fold - much less write about their experience on the world-wide web.

I do not know who you are or what you do, but I'm sure you're a very busy person and maybe someday I will know who you are and why you care so much about me.

Linda M. said...

PS By my calculations, perhaps you were at AU sometime during the years 1976 - 2000 when I lived there by the name of Linda Cash? My ex, Bill Cash was on the staff at AU.

Linda M. said...

Actually, I remarried in 1997 but didn't officially leave the area until 2000.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I read your comment and I found it very interesting. The thing is, I am a young Adventist, currently at Andrews University. However, my home church is Worthington SDA church, so i have had some encounters with both. I just wanted to make a few statements. First, I am sorry your visit was not necessarily the most enjoyable. However, it is true that an 800 member congregation IS quite large and hard to keep track of everyone. But, I remember my mother telling me once the same situation (vice versa) when she went to the pioneer memorial church. She said no one notices she was a visitor and she had people asking her for directions. No one talked to her and she didn't get invited anywhere to eat. Its just something that happens in large congregations. Can you imagine remembering that many names and faces? Also, one thing about worthington is that they never make an invitation to potluck because they have it all the time. Guests are always invited. Also, when i go to PMC I always dress up, but my boyfriend hardly does. Sometimes I think it's also more important to be there than to be there in the right clothes. One thing I learned in my bible class in high school is christian stewardship. This means you make sure you have enough to support your family first (as they are your priority and responsibility) and then take care of other people, but I have a hard time believing God wants us to spend money we don't have on dress clothes in order to "impress" him. He takes us as we are. Certainly, we should come in our best, but if our best is jeans and a tee-shirt, God is impressed with our love and dedication to him. The jewelry, make-up and dress are all external things, but God is working on our hearts. Sadly, I had heard that another Church in Columbus area called the Worrthington church the "sinner" church. I think that is quite sad. Aren't we all to unite together for God's cause? How can we do this when we are turning against his children? We need to support each other, let God make the changes. haven't we all sinned? Don't we all disappoint God in some way? How does jewelry makeup or dress make us worse sinners simply because others can see our "sins"? Besides, God tells us that the doctors are for the sick, not the healthy. If we are already well, how can we let God heal us? No, it isn't perfect, but neither is any other church. In fact, I have gotten quite a few nasty glares from workers at PMC but that doesn't stop me. I go for God,not for what others say about me or how I don't fit the "church criteria". If it makes you feel any better, it took me a while to connect with the church member myself. If you want something more like PMC I strongly recommend first service. That's my preference. And about the fruit thing...5 is sundown, but also, that work is voluntary for unloading the truck, that's why he encourages it and it is always fun to incorporate something in the community in the sermon...However, I wasn't there for that one and you might have me there, depending on the circumstances. Anyways, I just wanted to give you something to think about. I am not saying my views are right, but then again, can you say that with complete confidence either? Only God knows all truth. All we can do is interpret it as it comes and help those who God leads us to help.

Anonymous said...

honestly, i do not think God cares as much about dress and worship styles as we lead ourselves to believe. i feel as though you are close-minded and well indoctrinated. what will you do when u find the young man who always wore a t-shirt, sneakers, and earings to church, but no the pastor from michigan who refused to marry a couple because they were going to wear wedding rings. . .

Linda Meikle said...

Honestly, I DO think God looks on the heart and the reason we dress or don't dress for church. But, I can't quote a Bible verse on that. Nor, do I recall a Bible verse that says He cares about worship styles either. Come to think of it, I can't find the name of the church Jesus attended. I was sure it was SDA. (Now I'm being mean.)

Close-minded? Not sure what you think that means. I think the Worthington SDA pastor thought the same thing about me that you do and that's why he didn't want me becoming a member there.

The reason I know you (and others) missed my point is because my oldest son attended church in t-shirt, sneakers and earrings and I was simply happy that he was there. But, I know he got a lot of nasty looks from the older folks who were raised like I was to be more respectful of God and worship and he felt very unconfortable.

For the record, when I lived in Berrien Springs, PMC had a rule that rings could not be used during the wedding ceremony and if the couple insisted, they could not be married there. Maybe I shouldn't blame the pastor, but the church board for that. Besides being a member there, I was a local wedding photographer so I was acutely aware of that rule. Also, at the Eau Claire SDA church, anyone who wore a wedding band could not hold church office. I know because they voted me as SC Supt. until someone noticed my ring.

I continue to ask the question (as I did in my posting), why the difference now? Instead of logical answers, I get comments about who I am. LOL

I thank those who responded kindly, including the comments by Dan Jones. I have never met you, but if we ever meet, (it won't be in church) I'd accpet that hug!

8:30 PM

Anonymous said...

You care way too much about stupid things. People like you are part of the reason I am no longer SDA. That and I found out they teach false doctrine and have a false prophet. Basically, it's a cult.

Anonymous said...

I agree the mission of welcoming everyone with an "I want you to become part of the church (and snoop in your business)" attitude has given way to "attend if you like it here" mentality. The church that suscessfully welcomed me had members that were interested in being my friend, not because it was their job.

The Adventist church struggles with righteousness by works, and the shift you see against following the rules reflects the attitude we need to me more concerned with our relationship with Christ and accepting others rather than pushing them out because they wear a ring or do something we believe is a sin.

Churches that want to grow or have a mission to spread the gospel focus on welcoming people and making friendships. Churches full of members who feel like they have enough fiends and are too busy are not welcoming. That has nothing to do with denomination.

I think "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" and "love your neighbor" are far more important than rules that distract us from what is important (I'm not saying all rules should be done away with, however.) But I think you understand the struggle of whether a ring is a sin or not.

Incidentally, you were our photographer on 06/12/194.

Linda Meikle said...

I photographed a lot of weddings in June of 1994. Most likely in Berrien Springs at PMC? I hope you are still happy in love! I wish I still had my wedding schedule from back then...

About the SDA church, I wonder if the shift is not because people are more concerned with their relationship with Christ unless they were that way to begin with, but in order to have the freedom to interpret the Bible for themselves. There are so many translations - and translations of translations! Who knows what the 'rules' should be to be saved? Just my thoughts today.

Thanks for taking time to leave a comment here. All opinions are appreciated and welcome.

~Linda

Anonymous said...

I realize this post is many years old by now.

You said in a previous comment - "The point I most tried to make is the difference of how it(the SDA Church) used to be and what it is now; but what made the biggest impact was my critical, negativeness about not being overly welcomed back to church."

To clarify - are you saying that the first part was your point, but the second part is what people are coming away with from your post?

I would agree with that - it's what I got from it, too.

However, I would also agree that perhaps your 'critical negativeness' is what has colored your view of the 'welcoming' nature of the church? (Perhaps that's what you were getting at above, and I misunderstood?)

Reading your post, I couldn't help but think that perhaps you would have found some of the congregation more friendly if you hadn't been so busy judging their attire. And since you're hardly unfamiliar with the nature of church potluck, perhaps popping your head in and simply asking/introducing yourself might have been the way to go. After all, even the Proverbs recommend that you 'show yourself friendly'. You really can't expect everyone else to do the work.

As for attire - I remember attending a concert (at PMC, no less) where the singer sang a song that included the lyrics 'God don't care what you wear, He just wants you there.'

If God doesn't care, why should we? I think He gets what's most important...we're the ones who get tripped up over it, sticking our noses into everyone else's motivations for attire.

I recall a sermon at PMC that had a dramatic illustration to precede it - that illustration was of one of the college or academy kids, dressed up like a homeless man, pushing a grocery cart down the main aisle. There was no announcement that this was drama - it just happened. And I remember being a bit startled at first, but then thinking - 'wow, okay...I hope he finds a seat'. Imagine if it had been 'real', and this person had been turned away, because he wasn't 'dressing his best for God'. What's the goal, here?

I'm not a 'hugger'. I'm not a 'greeter'. That was my mother's personality - she'd hug you as soon as look at you. I'm more introverted, and not inclined to reach out. But it doesn't mean I'm not inclusive or friendly - I'm just not in the extroverted manner that you were apparently searching for. Perhaps this congregation wasn't either.

I don't at all feel that PMC is 'strict' about attire. I've come to church in jeans many a time. What they are, is showy. There's a difference. Many people do dress to the nines in that church. Because they can - because they want to be on display. (And remember, many of them are college students. It's not that different from birds preening to find a mate.) At the same time, though - I've never felt looked down upon if I wasn't particularly dressed up. It's a strange dichotomy, but there you have it.

I agree quite a bit with Dan's entire post, above. If I've misconstrued what you meant, I apologize, but I couldn't resist sticking my oar in, too.

Linda Meikle said...

To: "I realize this post is many years old"...Thanks for your comments and thoughts written in a kind and gentle manner. All opinions are good food for thought, and I appreciate each one. In the years following tihs post that has received more hits than any of the hundreds I've written, I've learned much more than if I had not put my thoughts to pen.
I believe my judgement was colored (affected) by the rejection of me for membership by the local pastor, but just today I learned that he is not longer there for many of the same reasons I posted here.
As I said, it's all good food for thought, and I've accepted that my ideas may be misinterpreted in some spots.

Anonymous said...

My friend had a similar experience. He was a Baptist and I had been doing bible studies with him and he was so excited about the SDA faith and finding a "Bible based" church. His experience of a Sabbath was a service devoted exclusively to a members years of service. Clapping and honoring her during the service that was meant for God. Now I have nothing against honoring a member but those things are done on another day. God was glorified as almost as a afterthought or an attachment to her devotion. I watched the service online and shared it with other SDAs. We all were so disappointed and horrified. My friend said (correctly) it reminded him of the money changers in the temple. I looked through other services and could not bare to watch them with names like (STDs in the church) and (Naughty women in the Bible). Seriously!?!?!? What is going on in the SDA Church? What if Jesus came back on a day when the pastor is teaching about STDs in the church or naughty women in the bible? Why the tantalizing and almost pornographically worldly titles? I had to explain to my friend that SDA churches normally do not behave or condone such things. Hopefully there is a church around that upholds the BIBLICAL standards of the CHURCH. I'm glad Ellen White was not here to attend or any of the founders..... or for that matter my grandmother who was a SDA school teacher until she had retired. The shock would have been great and there might have been another episode of righteous anger in the HOUSE OF GOD. We need to stand up for GOD's Church. This is not a community meeting-- this is the HOUSE OF GOD. However, my friend stated that before church, the bible study was very good.

Anonymous said...

badger
I think I observe that few commenters realize what Linda was trying to say! She was trying to present her view about coming back to church and not one person really cared that she was there. Her view expresses her reaction ALL VISITORS get when they attend for the first time. I found it interesting from the fact of inviting visitors (New interests) to church and they don't feel accepted. I often think about the last days when the members will be shaken because of their lack of faith, and the new believers coming into the church. Will the churches be able to handle the influx of people coming out of the world filling the pews where members have left. I attended Worthington but transferred to another church in the Columbus area where the people were more friendly. The church grew until the members attending were critical of others to the point of driving them away, or discouraged them until they no longer cared about participating. I saw the initial growth of that church until it became so formal the people coming to be encouraged were not allowed to speak in church. (noise) The members with children moved to another church because of conversations being brought to task. Where the children are not accepted the parents won't continue to attend. We can see churches closing their doors as a result. We lose them in church and then we wonder why we have no students attending church school. Linda is making a valid observation about her first time in a new church. Just out of curiosity visit the area churches and notice the excitement of worship found therein. The songs sung are like for a funeral derge - conveying that we don't have this hope!
Thank You Linda for posting the article, maybe it will get people thinking about "Worship in the SDA church"