Tales From the Wander: River Community Church

I awoke around 8:15am, I couldn't sleep any longer. My body is so used to getting up at 7am on Sunday mornings I guess. All of us had time to shower, eat, and still get to church 10 minutes before it started at 10:30am. That's one of the pluses of going to visit a church that is only a mile away. We are used to having to drive 25 minutes to get to church and having to be there and hour an a half early for worship rehearsal, security duty and nursery.

"This is the first time in 15 years that I've visited another church" Dean said as he drove. "Wow, I never even thought about that." I replied. Evangeline and I had visited First Presbyterian last summer. And although the Dream Center seems in a lot of ways like a separate church, and we have mostly just gone there since 2007, it is still a campus of Healing Place and is tied in many ways to the main church. So since 1998 we have only gone to and been heavily involved at Healing Place or a Campus of Healing Place.

Today we visited River Community Church. It's a Presbyterian church, an offshoot of First Prez which is in down town Baton Rouge. I worked at Baton Rouge Christian Counseling Center, which is inside of First Prez. from 1999 until 2008. One day I asked one of the pastors there what Presbyterians believed, "what denomination were you raised in?" he said. "Baptist" I replied and he said "We're like Baptist except we drink." Then he laughed, "no, just kidding, but we are a lot like baptist, and we do drink, so.." then he laughed again.

I thought it sounded like a church I would love simply by that description. :-)

When we moved here to Prairieville four years ago and I saw River Community Church right down the road, I thought many times, "I wonder what that church is like?" It's such a pretty building. It's small, unpretentious, looked very interesting from the outside.

When we arrived at church today we were greeted by a very friendly Carol. She wasn't obnoxious friendly, she had the right amount of smile to information ratio, not too perky and squeaky and not to solemn but just right.

The foyer was decorated with artwork for sale, I'm guessing artwork done by the members. "Mom, you could sell your art here!" Abel exclaimed. The foyer was a nice size, it was populated with older white people eating fruit, donuts and drinking coffee. There was lots of men in Khaki pants or jeans with button down shirts, four black people, including Abel, no Hipsters at all, and only a handful of teens/early 20 somethings, and just a few more kids. There was no air of superiority, this was not an uppity church I could tell right off. Educated, hard working people living simple quite lives was the vibe I got.

We met Evangeline's friend Hannah's family there. They have attended River Community for several years. Susan, Hannah's mom, told us that she had gone to the same Lutheran church for 35 years before coming to River Community. She empathized with Dean feeling like a fish out of water in this new place.

I felt excited by the adventure of it all.

Hannah's brothers sat with us, they are Steele and Abel's age. We sat on the 2nd row from the back. It was a small sanctuary, much smaller then the Dream Center which only seats about 500 people. I'm guessing this sanctuary would seat 200 maybe.

The music was simple and mellow, but good. The stage was not a stage at all, it was almost level with the congregation. I loved that. No rock stars here.

The children were in service with their parents. This is deliberate, kids have a Sunday school class before the worship service like adults do but when it's time for corporate worship and the sermon, the kids are in there with their parents. I liked that. 

It was so quiet. Even with the kids in there.

The sermon was from Ephesians. Don Shipley is the pastor and he went into a deep exploration of the history of the text, showed slides of Ephesus and the great temple of Artemis. I love deep teaching on scripture that teaches me the history and context of what I'm learning. LOVE IT!

After the sermon we all did communion. They do this every Sunday. Everyone walks to the front, you break off a piece of bread and dip it into the goblet of grape juice. My kids were loving this in a nervous giggle kinda way. Mostly because I told them it was real wine they were dipping the bread into. They knew better once they had actually tasted it though. As we took the bread and dipped it into the cup the men holding the bread and the grape juice would say to us, "The Body of Christ broken for you); the Blood of Christ shed for you". I thought that was very cool.


When I got back to our seat there was a folded up piece of paper on my purse.
 It was this..


I have no idea who put it there. No one around us knew either. But whoever it was must know me, I love books.

When we got home Evangeline and I made turkey meatballs, with green beans, garlic bread and salad for lunch. As we sat down to eat we all talked about what we thought about this strange new day.

"It was just to quiet" Evangeline said.

"I liked it! Me too!" Steele and Abel said.

"It's just so different. It's boring, I don't know." Evangeline said again. You could tell she was thinking, processing.

"You're use to high energy, lots of theatrics, you were raised on it." I said.

"Shoot, that was way better then what we were raised in in the Baptist church" Dean said.

"Yea, you don't even know boring. at least we learned something." I said.

"I liked the teaching. That was good. It was just different then what I'm used to. Not sure how I feel." Dean said.

"Are we never going back to the Dream Center?" Evangeline said.

"I don't know Evangeline, I don't know." I trailed off, trying to get my head around that idea and not think about it all at the same time.

"I think I want to go to the 5 oclock service at HPC tonight." Dean said.

"why?" I asked before even thinking.

And this went on, our processing of this new season, as we sat around our dining room table, enjoying Sunday dinner together, all of us talking about our experience and thoughts from the visit to River Community Church. Together as a family, sorting out how we feel about all this.

I have no idea where this will lead. My heart hurts but it also feels excited. I miss the Dream Center family already. I still can't imagine being anywhere else, but then again I can...it's such a strange time.

Next week we will visit Chapel on the Campus.

"It's weird that someone put that paper with that list of books on my purse." I said, thinking outloud.

"Maybe it was an angel? Maybe that man that was sitting by himself at the end of the row was an angel." Evangeline said.

Hum. I think maybe she's on to something there. 

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