One of the things that is important to Ron & I is being able to fellowship with other believers as well as be fed God's word. So we have started looking for a local fellowship to participate in while we are here in Texas. On Saturday we drove around Hondo checking out where different churches were located. We stopped at First Baptist Church as there were some cars parked out front. I went in and met Alan & Yvonne. Told them we were new to the area and were thinking of checking out their church. I was told the service starts at 10:45 (found out on Sunday it starts at 11:00) and that there would be a potluck following the service and to please plan to attend. So our first Sunday off we went to First Baptist Church of Hondo.
FBC of Hondo was a very typical Baptist church. They have Sunday School the first hour followed by the worship service. We attended the worship service. They had a choir that opened the service with a hymn. Right now they have an interim pastor while they look for a new pastor. I was told by the previous pastor (we had emailed back and forth before our arriving here) that he left on good terms after being there for over seven years. Continuing with the service we were led in singing a couple of hymns (we like hymns) and then a special time of singing lots of Sunday School songs. The reason for the special songs was because the church was celebrating those who turn 90 and 100 this year. We were amazed as there were 8 or 9 people celebrating those special birthdays. After the singing there were announcements, taking of the offering and then the interim pastor brought the message. It was a good sermon on relationships. Our relationship with the Lord as well as our relationships with those we interact with each day. The service closed with another hymn and an altar call, something very common in a Baptist church. We felt very welcomed before the service and during the meet/greet time.
After the service ended the Pastoral Search Committee came forward and said they had chosen a man and his family to come and candidate to be their new pastor. They are coming on 3/13. And then we were excused to attend the potluck. As typical with most church potlucks there was plenty of food. What was disheartening was that no one spoke to us until we were almost finished eating. We had tried to sit at 3 different tables but were told each time that those seats were taken. So we sat by ourselves which was very uncomfortable. Just as we finished eating a woman came to our table and visited with us for about 5 minutes and then excused herself.
The service was good and we will attend on 3/13 to meet the couple who are canidating, stay for the potluck and the Q&A time with the canidating couple. If FBC is where we feel the Lord is leading us we feel we should know, as much as we can, the new pastoral couple. We don't know if that is where we will land. One concern I have is that it is a huge church 350+ people attend. I don't want to just be a pew warmer (yes they have pews) or get lost in the crowd.
Then last Sunday we went to Church on the Hill. When we pulled into the parking lot about 5 minutes before the service was due to start lots of cars were leaving. We got out of the car and Ron asked a young man (later found out he is the Youth Pastor) had we missed the service. Nope, it was being held at Hondo Park #1. So we followed him to the park. There were about 80 people there. Steven, the Youth Pastor introduced us to the pastor, Alfonso who in turn introduced us to his wife and a few other people.
We expected the service to be a little laid back as it was being held in the park but we were not ready for dancing during the praise time and we only knew one of the songs of about six that were sang (none were hymns). We took Communion as a group and Alfonso shared from scriptures that we are very familiar with which made us feel good. We want to attend where the preaching is from the Bible. And then they took the offering ~ that was very different. Alfonso went into this long speel about "returning the tithe not giving of tithes." It was confusing to me. Not sure if it is just skemantics in my brain or not. And then they put a small table where the altar would be with a basket on it. And then the pastor and his wife stood in front of the basket, held the envelope (they passed out envelopes for all the money to be put in them ~ we did not take an envelope so I don't know what information was asked for) and then prayed together. And then the rest of the congregation lined up and family by family unit went up and did the same thing. It seemed very awkward to us as we were the only ones that did not go up, hold up an envelope and pray.
Then the pastor said the Lord told him this week that First Lady (that's what he calls his wife, introduced us to her as Sheila) was to bring the message. And she did. For almost an hour. She did preach from the Bible. The sermon was on we are God's precious child and He wants the best for us. We are special and important to Him. And she preached a lot about health/wealth - pray and God will give abundantly to us, we will not want for anything including healthy bodies without sickness... RED flag for us.
After the service we were invited to stay for their potluck. The first Sunday of each month is Family Sunday and they have a meal following the service. Everyone was very welcoming to us, escorting us to the front of the line where people were getting their plates/silverware and we sat with a couple across from us and another one beside us. And we visited for a little while.
As we got in the car to drive away we acknowledged we felt very welcome there but we were both uncomfortable during the service and then in reading their bulletin that one of their beliefs is as a confirmation of your salvation you speak in tongues ~ we do not believe that is true for every person. Yes God can give the gift of speaking in tongues but we don't believe every person has to speak in tongues. And the dancing/singing and outbursts throughout the whole service was uncomfortable to both of us.
This next week we will be going back to FBC to hear the canidating couple preach and answer questions and we will once again stay for the potluck - we will see if we are made to feel welcome then.
I will write another update about checking out churches after Sunday's visit at FBC.
I hope what I have written as not offended anyone, that was not my intention but to write about the two churches we have attended.
Talk to you all again soon.