Monday, February 22, 2010

Salvation Army Church Service

We were out late Saturday night and therefore not up to rising early enough to get to our usual church Sunday morning. So we visited the nearby Salvation Army Tabernacle. It was ... really something.

Just entering the church was a little bit of a shock, since there were so many people wearing military-style uniforms. Not everyone, but several people. We went into the sanctuary and saw that up on the "stage" (for lack of a better word), there was a full brass band--about 20-25 members. They were also wearing uniforms. And behind them a choir of 40-45 dressed in the same manner.

Throughout the service, the various people leading worship (all in uniform) continued to use military terminology--the ministers being called "Lt. Colonel So-and-So" or "Sgt. Major So-and-So." They talked about their upcoming "Soldiering Class" (Confirmation/New Members Class?). The choir, band and congregation were all conducted in a military style.

Apparently they place a high value on learning to play brass instruments. During the announcements, they gave special recognition to a young man who had competed in Academic Decathlon and won a bronze in Music. After the applause had died down, it was mentioned in passing that he had also won a gold in Economics and silver in American History. Interesting priorities.

Aside from the whole "army" theme, it was a wonderful service--the band and choir were excellent, the congregational songs were very singable and easy to learn (they were neither traditional hymns nor contemporary praise music, but came from their own Salvation Army Songbook). The preaching was quite good ("inspired and adapted" from Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Ministries book). And the people were super friendly and welcoming.

But I think it would take several visits for me to get over the military uniforms and language. I suppose I have some first-hand experience now of what an "un-churched" person might feel coming into a "normal" church service ...

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