Overview part two of two

Now to continue summing up my posts:

Stylites are pole sitters

I signed a petition- fight hunger!

I wasn’t sure about the new Pope

Eastern Easter was three hours long but I was so absorbed in the whole thing

I wrote a three part piece for Love, Joy, Feminism

I’m better at biblical trivia than some churches!

Pope Francis thinks atheists are redeemed by the blood of Christ; the Vatican does not

I am finding myself tired by the project

31) New Hope Church South- this sermon on integrity is better than the last integrity sermon was. I was only disappointed by lack of fellowship time

32) St Andrew Episcopal- massively good with great messages, a nice post to re-read

Baptism used to be a much lengthier process in the 200’s

I examined grace, faith and works as philosophies

33) All Saints, the other Cathedral- another great re-read, sermon on sin that I actually liked

34) True Witness Apostolic Faith- small, strange

35) Union(ville) RCA- friendly folks, sermon held reminder we are lucky to be far from war in this country

I examine the difficulties of gluten-free worship

Kateri shrine makes me wonder about how true accounts of her story really are

The pope said some stuff about gays. It was far more positive than anyone expected

36) St Mary’s Catholic- this is the church with a turquoise carpet and pastel ceiling

37) Metropolitan New Testament Missionary Baptist- it was like something was missing

38) Iglesia Pentecostal- friendly, great music, they seemed over-concerned about demons though

I find myself stumbling through old church names in the yellow pages

39) First Church, RCA- nice, message includes caring for nature/environmentalist concerns

40) Mt Calvary Baptist- sermon somehow made me feel hopeful about things that seem hopeless, guest pastor was fantastic

41) St Francis of Assisi Delaware Ave- I was told by the deacon the church has gay membership.

42) Mother Theresa Catholic community- despite the appearance I liked the easy welcome and generosity here

43) Union Missionary Baptist- they seem nice but I felt unwelcome to communion

We become the group, the group becomes us

44) St Paul Episcopal- fortress of solitude with friendly coffee hour

45) Powerhouse City of Deliverance- so loud it pushed beyond the sound to peacefulness

46) St Francis Assisi South End- 1000 paper cranes and remembering to push our comfort level

I wrote about stewardship and the Aquabats

Get it together regarding website, Presbys!

God can’t erase the need for human help in depression, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

Read a book by a pastor who probably should have listened to my above advice. She frames the whole thing as a battle against the devil, personified by a deacon in her church

It sounds like early Christianity offered a basis for women and slaves to refuse sex, something they may have been expected to give to their husbands and owners

47) Wilborn COGIC- guest preacher was trite, but cool communion points, with an individual germ-free packet we stood up as a group to eat

The bible is partly fanfic

48) Mt Zion missionary Baptist- I should go again

49) New Horizons- the end is near!

50) White Couch- didn’t do what I was hoping, just kinda fell flat

I was sick a few Sundays and got a little despondent

51) Greater St John COGIC- decent, I decided crazy praise might be a way of fighting depression and (self discovery) learned that God is a terrorist in the Moses story

52) Antioch Fellowship- the minister doing the service told me she loved me

53) Sweet Pilgrim- nice building, great messages, liturgical dance

54) First Presby Greenbush- nice little church, old but newly merged, would be interesting to see where it goes

I am still thinking about how much or little I care about a church’s doctrine and maintenance of rules

55) Terra Nova- I hadn’t noticed before but this church is affiliated with the acts29 group

Easter- I ponder how to be shocked enough at Jesus’ death and in fact all human death

I complain about gender essentialism and point out the Jesus doesn’t seem to have made any statements about the proper roles for men vs women

56) St Tim’s N. Greenbush- ELCA doesn’t disappoint!

I note that I am not just looking for the familiar but intentionally pushing into the unknown

I see God as the possibilities

57) S. Bethlehem UMC- It’s God’s party, he sends the invites

58) Iglesia Emmanuel- fun music, disappointing convo with music director/pastor’s son

I short posted about guns, prayer, and marriage

Making sin right should include considering those outside ourselves hurt by the sin. Christianity often seems to miss this key component in getting wrapped up in fixing the sinner’s relationship with God.

Grand St Church in someone’s home via video- disorganized and amateurish

59) St John Evangelist/St Joseph- interesting to look at, otherwise unmemorable

I examine a Catholic same-gender attraction support group via online

60) Reigning Life- white patriarchal leadership of friendly black congregation…strange

I wonder why we lump different Christian groups together as if they are a homogeneous mass

I talk about the fact that taking notes helps me absorb the message better

And now we’re pretty much up to speed.

Full Church List

It’s time I compiled a list of churches I’ve visited in alphabetical order by church name. The number after each church is NOT a ranking, it refers the order in which I visited them and it is meant to help you navigate my archive. I would link them all, but my website doesn’t seem to like that.

All Saints Cathedral (Episcopal) #33
aka under Cathedral
Antioch Christian Fellowship (unknown) #52
Bethlehem Community Church (Nodenom) #5
Bethlehem Lutheran Church (Lutheran- Missouri Synod) #11
Cathedral of All Saints (Episcopal) #33
aka under All
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic) #25
aka under Immaculate
Community United Methodist Church (UMC) #16
aka under Slingerlands
Church of Saint Vincent De Paul (Roman Catholic) #26
aka under ‘Saint’ and ‘Vincent’
Delmar Full Gospel Church (Nodenom) #1
Delmar Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) #15
Delmar Reformed Church (RCA) #10
First Church in Albany (RCA) #39
First Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science) #17
First Congregational Church (UCC) #22
First Presbyterian Church of Greenbush (PCUSA) #54
First Reformed Church of Bethlehem (RCA) #19
First United Methodist Church in Delmar (UMC) #14
First United Methodist Church in Rensselaer (UMC) #58
aka under Iglesia
Glenmont Community Church (RCA) #4
Greater Saint John’s Church of God in Christ (COGIC) #51
aka under St. John
Historic Saint Mary’s Church (Roman Catholic) #36
aka under St Mary
Holy Spirit Lutheran (ELCA) #24
aka under Lutheran
Iglesia Emmanuel (UMC) #58
aka under First
Iglesia Pentecostal (Pentecostal) #38
Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic) #25
aka under Cathedral
Jerusalem Reformed Church (RCA) #21
Journey United Church of Christ (UCC) #23
Kingdom Hall in Bethlehem (Jehovah’s Witness) #3
King’s Chapel in Glenmont (Nodenom) #2
Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit (ELCA) #24
aka under Holy Spirit
Mater Christi (Roman Catholic) #61
Metropolitan New Testament Missionary Baptist (NBC) #37
Mother Theresa’s (Roman Catholic) #42
Mount Calvary Baptist Church (NBC) #40
Mount Moriah Church (Nodenom) #7
Mount Zion Missionary Baptist (?) #48
New Hope Ministries (Assemblies of God) #31
New Horizons Christian Church (Pentecostal) #49
Powerhouse City of Deliverance (Pentecostal) #45
Reigning Life Family Church (nodenom) #60
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal (Episcopal) #32
Saint Francis of Assisi Delaware Avenue (Roman Catholic) #41
Saint Francis of Assisi South End (Roman Catholic) #46
Saint George’s Antiochian Orthodox (EO) #29
Saint John’s Church of God in Christ (COGIC) #51
aka under Greater
Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Joseph (Roman Catholic) #59
Saint Mary’s in Albany (Roman Catholic) #36
aka under Historic
Saint Matthew Lutheran Church (Lutheran-Missouri Synod) #18
Saint Michael’s Chapel (Catholic, non-Novus Ordo) #13
Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church (Episcopal) #44
Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church (Episcopal) #28
Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church (EO) #20
Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church (Episcopal) #8
Saint Timothy’s Evangelical Lutheran (ELCA) #56
Saint Thomas the Apostle (Roman Catholic) #9
Saint Vincent De Paul (Roman Catholic) #26
aka under ‘Church’ and ‘Vincent’
Slingerlands Community United Methodist Church (UMC) #16
aka under Community
Solid Rock Church (UPCI) #6
South Bethlehem United Methodist Church (UMC) #57
Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church #53 (NBC)
Terra Nova Church #55 (Nodenom)
Third Reformed Church Albany (RCA) #30
True Witness Apostolic Faith Church (TCAF) #34
Union Dutch Reformed Church (RCA) #35
aka under Unionville
Union Missionary Baptist (?) #43
Unionville Reformed Church (RCA) #35
aka under Union Dutch
Vincent De Paul (Roman Catholic) #26
aka under ‘Saint’ and ‘Church’
Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) #27
White Couch Albany (Nodenom) #50
Wilborn Temple First Church of God in Christ (COGIC) #47

Key:
EO= Eastern Orthodox
NBC=National Baptist Convention
Nodenom= No denomination given
PCUSA= Presbyterian Church USA
RCA= Reformed Church in America
TCAF= True Church of the Apostolic Faith
UCC= United Church of Christ
UPCI= United Pentecostal Church International

**For further explanation of churches with no denomination, see individual church posts. I try to give explanation when possible as to church origin and philosophy.

*Notice lack of #12? For this one I attended not a public church but instead visited a religious community in Albany called the Bruderhof. The group has a house on Washington Park. They do allow visitors, but they like to be sent a request ahead of time. It is their home after all.

Overview part one of two

I’m feeling the need to evaluate the project again as a whole. Interestingly, my limit before I want to do this seems to be 30 churches. I decided to re-read all my posts to find out what I’d forgotten about the visits, if anything. After visit #30 I came across the post about how I needed a break to contemplate the project. So that’s helpful, since I can now expect to make it to 90 then take another look back.

After reading through the blog I made notes as sort of a quick reference to each church or religious thought post. Here are the notes, in case you are interested:

Opening post: My rules have changed a lot.

1) Delmar Full Gosp, only negative I rember is pastor’s advice

I couldn’t find St Mikes service time

2) King’s Chapel, story of moon worshipped

3) Jehovah’s Witnesses, kinda scared

4) Glenmont Community, Abby, and friendly people who offer hugs

I reviewed Dogma.
I was so optimistic. What happened?

5) BCC- I was bored

6) Solid Rock actually were several positives here I have forgotten

7) Mount Moriah, wasn’t really that bad. Pastor Jesse seems fine. But the book- so wacky

8) I stayed so long at St Stephens
Also did I cause a dust up over atheists and article 13?

9) St. Thomas, extremely disappointing

10) I forgot how happy Delmar Reform made me. People there were so relaxed and chill.

11) Bethlehem Lutheran gave a null vibe

12) Parkview!

I got a little discouraged about prayer

13) St Mikes Chapel mentioned a fish carrying a sack symbol
* I drove by The Chapel recently only to discover they finally put up a sign listing mass time. Did I have anything to do with that?

Christianese was the beginning of my discovery into the origins of heaven/hell/purgatory
Christianese was also my first exposure to obviously wrong and bad theology: conceptually and scientifically impossible things

I make the most killer argument against condemning homosexuality!

14) First Methodist- Iona Dickinson- and I did get to hold a baby. High church but very friendly

Was already tired but still fairly optimistic about project outcomes

15) Delmar Presby was a nice first visit

16) Slingerlands UMC, wow, great sunny Methodist service about David’s Ducky. So much to write!

17) Christian Science pretty much just confuses me

18) New low- older membership at St Matts Lutheran church, pastor says when you feel you can give no more, STOP BEING SINFUL AND GIVE MORE

All interim pastors are named Bob

Remember the naked man in the gospels

19) 1st Reformed of Bethlehem in Selkirk, upstairs from food pantry- didn’t do much for me otherwise

I compare the myth of the perfect church to ‘one true love’ and monogamy

20) St Sophia’s was sensory glorious

21) Jerusalem Reformed had an outdoor service and I learned about Michal and David’s underwear

22) Great vibe over at First Congregational. Pastor seems very introspective.

Still fed up about prayer

Retreat with seekers is more of a self reflective baby-holdathon than informative

I was recognized quite a bit in those days, mostly in reform churches

Remember the woman in Ireland named Savita? I wrote about it

Joan of Ark…I crack me up

Santa and Christians rant

I wrote the most awesome stuff about being nice to atheists and everybody

Two posts on good and evil- can good exist in the absence of evil for comparison? If we made a paradise would forgetting evil make us revisit it?

Another pretty awesome piece about Scrooge only realizing his error when it was pointed out that has underpayment of Bob Cratchit sentenced a young innocent to death (Tiny Tim). Repentance of ignorance.

23) I expected great things from Journey UCC and was underwhelmed

24) Holy Spirit ELCA! I felt really welcomed

Freakin amazing Star Trek parallel. I’m on fire baby!

25) Immac Cathedral- how do these people fellowship?

26) Vincent de Paul is for families

27) Westminster Presby nice, church with hotel looking fellowship area. I stayed for after worship discussion of a book pastor is reading

I rambled on empathy

28) St Peters Episcopal- Carly and the five points of view to the prodigal son story

Lent- fasting in the desert, mourning Jesus

29) Cheesefare Sunday at the St George Orthodox Church

Superstar takeaway- we all have it in us to commit violence. We all kill Jesus.

30) Third Reformed- in which I wonder if Jesus ran out of ectoplasm before he could appear to everyone in the entire world. (We heard the story of Thomas)

So that’s notes on half #1 of the project. I was learning a lot along the lines of theologies. In retrospect, I was understanding Christianity as far more similar to itself than I now understand. I forgot several interesting or amusing things from the visits. It’s nice to revisit the different things I wrote and see the positives again.

Church #61, Mater Christi

Date: 7/20/14

Church name/type: Mater Christi, Roman Catholic Church- formed from the merger of St Teresa of Avila and St Catherine of Siena in 2009

Pastor: Father Kenneth Doyle

Style of worship: Short formally structured mass

Useful takeaways:
So this church is pretty full, and has a decent mix of ages and ethnicities. I think I see some Philipinos and (I think) some folks from Pakistan or India.

The sermon was on the parable of the wheat and the weeds (or tares). The priest took the usual interpretation of this story and related that it spoke of final judgement. The story describes the farmer collecting the wheat and tares then separating them after the harvest into a pile to save and a pile to be burnt. So those not accepted into heaven are relegated to fire in this metaphor. Father Doyle made a point of cautioning us not to see this story as a source of fear. He reasoned that God created us as a sort of project, hoping we would turn out successfully. If the project was a massive failure God could scrap it at any time. We therefore think most people do make it to heaven. We are always working to be good and when we do sin, we repent of that sin and keep trying.

Interestingly, this brings up something I mentioned in a past post. Repentance in certain Protestant churches is seen as a big one-time occurrence. It is supposed to be the massive life changing event of accepting Jesus. The Catholic idea of repentance seems to be simply the admission of wrongdoing- the equivalent of a confession. I find the Catholic version of repentance more realistic. I myself feel like I am continually working to not commit wrongs. Goodness doesn’t just flow from me via knowing Christ. I still yell, I still misjudge others, I still react in anger. I know I have to face that and continue trying to do better. That, to me, is repentance.

Problems/Improvements:
I was literally four minutes late and the mass was basically in full swing when I arrived. Seems like they could hold off five minutes because it’s summer and people run late.

Again no coffee hour to hang around and get to know anybody. Am I weird for wanting one?

Getting the most out of church service- take note(s)

So I realized that I’ve been sitting on something really valuable that I ought to share with my readership. Maybe this is obvious, but I’m going to talk about it anyway. I have gotten way, way better at absorbing the actual content of church sermons since I started taking notes. Things just sink in better if I write them down. The Catholic churches I was brought up in were formal to the point of assuming the ‘tweens and older would sit respectfully still during mass. Babies crying were expected to be rushed out into a hall or nearby room to minimize noise disruptions. This lent an air of not wanting to appear distracted. As such I never felt comfortable taking notes. With the advent of my project I became an observer. It freed me to be able to do things like dress in jeans, leave early, or take notes during a sermon. This has shown itself to be something of an unexpected perk. Because of this project I’m accumulating a much higher volume of information on religious topics. This comes not just from the sermon content but from the readings of scripture and even the songs we sing. There are so many things to notice. And I can write most of them down in my hard copy journal. I’m sure there are others out there not doing this who could benefit from note-taking. We do go to church to learn about God, don’t we? We shouldn’t feel weird about treating the sermons as lessons with the pastor or deacon as the teacher.