What Makes a Church Unique?
When we lived in a Ukrainian neighborhood in Winnipeg’s inner city, we attended a Ukrainian evangelical church. This church was a unique experience because the pastor spoke first in Ukrainian, then translated in English. My step-dad was of Ukrainian heritage, but us kids didn’t understand the language, so during that part of the sermon, we sort of vegetated. ie counted the ceiling tiles, etc.
Another church where language was an issue is the one we attend when we visit my mom. Thunder Bay, Ontario has the 2nd largest Finn population in Canada. This church has an English speaking pastor and one straight from Finland. The church offers a service in each language every Sunday morning. Because my mom’s husband is Finn and can’t read an English Bible, we go to the Finn service. Thanks to technology, headphones with translation is offered for both services except for the music portions.
When we were in the military, attending the on-base chapels was an experience, too because you only had a choice between Roman Catholic and Protestant. Because they knew people of different protestant denominations attended, they offered bi-weekly services so that one week was of the Anglican faith where we used the kneelers and the other week was United where we didn’t. And instead of pastors, they were called padres or chaplains. This whole experience was so different because there I was used to a pastor in plain clothes and I was attending church led by a padre dressed in priestly robes. Here’s the website of an Anglican priest who is working as a Canadian military padre. This blog was a revelation because it shows a chaplain training course which included several denominations including Pentecostal and Baptist pastors.
On our second posting to the air base in Cold Lake, Alberta, we bought an acreage off-base and joined the local Alliance church in the town of Grand Centre. This church was packed every Sunday, a first for us. It was also the first civilian church we attended with two pastors - not counting Mom's Finn church. The unique experience of this church happened when the church decided to branch into the nearby town of Cold Lake. Because we lived between the two towns, we were one of four families that chose to start attending the newly planted church. I remember our new pastor had mixed feelings about the venture. He admitted to being sad to leave the old church where he'd been the assistant pastor. But he was also thrilled to finally have his own flock.
Part of this unique experience was when we consecrated the new church building. Although it had been used as a church previously, the minister had been a real hell-fire and brimstone preacher who had ‘scared-off’ the parishioners. One of the first things we did was pull down a huge banner which hung in the front of the church and declared, ‘Repent or Be Damned!”. Then we each went into different corners of the building and prayed for anything not of God to leave. With that done, we asked Him to bless every inch of the building and property and let all who enter find peace and answers.
|Church on the Hill, Glenavon, Saskatchewan|
Joey Theriault singing old time gospel, Where Could I Go But To The Lord in one of my first attempts at making a YouTube video:
And that’s what makes COTH unique among all the churches I’ve attended – it’s variety of music. Instead of having a worship team that plays together every week, we have several families that take turns leading worship. So one week you’ll have the pastor’s wife, Diane Bonk playing piano with her preference for hymns. But the next week you could have the Keller Family with their old time country gospel sound. My husband and son, Nelson and Nick, lead worship once a month with Nick singing and Nelson accompanying him on guitar. Before Lori moved away, she played guitar and used an accompaniment machine she called a ‘beat box’. Last Sunday, Allan Turberfield debuted as a worship leader with a new sound – a deep bass with accompaniment tracks. I love that half the Sunday service is worship.
|Nick singing accompanied by Nelson on guitar|