This is still in draft form.
Most people associate the Salvation Army with thrift stores and Christmas kettles, but there’s an entire denomination of the Salvation Army. My friend Jennine, says of this particular church, “they have to be the friendliest congregation we ever encountered.” They were very friendly, and we felt very welcome, as did Elaine, who came to play along this week, as we were on her side of town. We were greeted by Shoshannah Ruwethin, one of the Corps Officers/Pastors, who said she’d just read a Japanese proverb that “A kind word removes 3 months of winter,” and then wondered (as it was snowing, again, today) if maybe we weren’t being kind enough. So she entreated us to take a moment and greet those around us.
We sang the hymn “To God Be the Glory,” and paused between verses, to allow people to express their praises and thanksgivings. What was particularly impressive was that, like Life Center, they had a 7 piece worship team (drums, guitars, bass, singers). But their congregation is only about 1/10th the size of Life Center’s–we guesstimated about 120-150 at the 11am service. But they ALSO had a 12 piece brass band, in addition to the worship team.
The bulletin is peculiar in that it contains a portion of the order of the service, but not all of that. I categorize that as peculiar, because, up to this point, the bulletins have either contained all the order of service, or none of it. But not a mix. The things necessary to the service were also projected above the stage in front, including the hymns (from the hymnal that contains only words and no scores, Michael informs me. He was just tickled by the notion of having a hymnal with just the words).
There was both a “children’s sermon” and a sermon geared toward the adults. The children’s sermon involved a white board, and imagining a creature, beginning with where he lived. Through the sermon, Dave McConkey ascertained that the creature lived in the rainforest, in both the trees and on the ground, was a nocturnal, omnivorous, multi-ped with wings. The creature was first named “Fred,” but ended up named “Elefred” because of its pachydermal ears. Dave went on to explain to the children that God made us each different, because God has a plan for each of us, and that–in the same way Elefred would be ill-suited for life in Alaska, we ought to follow the plan God has for us, because it’s the one we’re suited for.
Celestine Ruwethin, the other pastor, preached on “Walking in Unity” from Ephesians 4:1-6. After his portion of the sermon, the pastor played this video clip, Erwin McManus: Give You Life Away.
As we were driving to lunch, Michael and I were discussing the veracity of Dave’s assertion that God has a plan for each individual person. Michael offered that he certainly thought God has a purpose . . . but he just wasn’t sure he could extend that to being a full-fledged plan. We agreed that, if God does have plans for individuals, he certainly isn’t very forthcoming about them. And that got me thinking . . . doesn’t it seem that traditions that put great emphasis on God’s having a plan for each person, ought to also have a discernment process for those folks? I know nearly every tradition has a discernment process for those who seek to become clergy, but very few that do the same for laity.