Church Number two was Asbury United Methodist Church (pictured above). We have actually wanted to visit this congregation for some time for two reasons:
1)It is a growing, active congregation and I've heard that the pastor is a good Biblical preacher.
2)This church bought my grandparents property two lots over to the North.
So we went this past Sunday with some friends who have been attending the church. We arrived early knowing it would be crowded and after spending 10 minutes looking for a parking place, ended up parking in the street. I suppose they have visitor parking but if so, it wasn't easily identifiable at all.
I have to say that the inside of the building was beautiful. It is ornate and very nicely designed. I love the "grand" staircases coming down from the balcony into the gathering area. What I didn't like is that the welcome center is fairly hidden off to the side. I had to search to find it. I think that is a huge minus.
The sanctuary is large and much to my surprise built with a sloped floor and pews. I suppose the fact that this church is within the United Methodist fellowship probably dictated style? Nevertheless, the sanctuary is beautiful although the pews weren't exactly designed for comfort.
The service on this particular Sunday was an oratorio program. It was a musical telling of the creation and fall of man as well as an accounting of the Old Testament nation of Israel calling for a king. It went right through the birth of Christ and ended with the crucifixion. They had a full live orchestra, a huge choir and some amazing soloists. I wondered if the soloists were volunteers or if they were paid.
The program was right at an hour in length and was enjoyable...mostly. They had the words to all the songs printed and that was helpful. However, I had to wonder about doing a program of this sort on a Sunday morning. I missed communion and preaching. On the other hand, you have to understand this is what Diane and I call "high church." Its a different way of doing church. It utilizes what we call "high" arts and approaches doing church differently. I first encountered this at Diane's home church in Columbus, Indiana. It's a church format very similar to what we experienced when I first started dating Diane. It took me a couple of months to get used to the high church style, but once I did I really liked it.
The "Oopsie" of this visit was the crochety old lady behind us who rudely told Diane to turn off her cell phone before the service began. I thought that if we had been unchurched visitors her attitude would have ended any chance of our ever returning.
We plan to visit this church again after the holidays so we can experience a regular service. We'll let you know how that visit goes.
Next Sunday we'll be in Little Rock, so please be praying about my meeting with the leadership there.
PS - Any of you who wonder what a sanctuary looks like with a sloped floor and pews and an overhanging balcony should go check out this church.