Sunday, September 03, 2006

Churches: "Fundamentalist" and "Liberal"

The Comstock Park UCC is close to our home on the river, and for the third time this summer we worshipped there this morning. It's a "left-behind" church by any standard (and certainly by the definition I use in my book by that title), but it's got a lot going for it. It would be hard to find a church more opposite from LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, where we are members. But I do find incredible similarities to Whitneyville Bible Church and two other Bible churches where I was connected for a dozen years.

Many people would imagine that the IFCA (Independent Fundamentalist Churches of America) would have little in common with the UCC (United Church of Christ). One is on the far right, the other on the far left. But little neighborhood churches have a way of breaking all the rules of easy classification.

The comparison between Whitneyville (of two-plus decades ago)and Comstock Park UCC was triggered by the chorus that is regularly sung before the sermon at both churches: "Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus. . . ." Hymns were similar too, including "Rock of Ages" and "Blest Be the Tie that Binds." So also the special music, "Like the Woman at the Well" and "He Touched Me." And the sermon, delivered in a very engaging style, was based on Mark 7:1-8, preached verse by verse--the standard preaching method of a Bible church.

The invocation was hardly what one might expect in a "liberal" UCC: "Almighty God, grant, we ask, a great outpouring of Your Holy Spirit upon Your people. Stir our hearts, O God, so as to cause a deep and widespread revival of living faith in Christ. Let this faith, O God, work by love,and bring forth fruits of the Spirit to Your glory and praise. Through Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen."

In many ways the community spirit and the friendliness was similar to Whitneyville Bible as well. We left with a giant red tomato, one of many brought in by a gardener and passed around during the coffee-time after the service. (I can't imagine leaving LaGrave on a Sunday morning with a tomato!)

There were, of course, a few differences. Though the church itself seems to have an equal gender mix, we were served the Lord's Supper by four women. It somehow seemed appropriate. Aren't women naturals at serving supper?

But apart from that it would be hard to tell whether the church was UCC or IFCA. So, don't be too quick to judge a church by its denominational tag. MADE IN THE UCC might not automatically mean a "liberal" fabric that cannot be washed without shrinking.

1 comment:

  1. Do you think that gardener could come up to Hayward with a load of tomatoes