Sunday, July 03, 2011

Singing in the rain

Well, I wish you-all could have joined us for this morning’s ecumenical service on the square. Even though there was no altar call, it was about as good as events like this get --- despite a baptismal experience.

When it started to rain seriously after the final lesson but before the sermon, we all just picked up and moved into the beer tent --- conveniently placed so that on other occasions those who partake can enjoy the entertainment on Memorial Stage, too.

It’s a double tent, so there was enough room (barely). And a broadening experience both for those who said they’d never attended church in a beer tent before and others who said, less convincingly, they’d never even been in a beer tent. The stage is covered, so no one up there got wet either. Maybe 50-75 other folks took shelter in the bandstand or under other smaller tents --- or just stood in the rain.

The stars of the service had to be the choir from Chariton’s Ukraine Christian Church, singing in their native language. They were wonderful, perhaps 25 choristers tending toward the young. Their pastor, Grigory Litvin (with Sergey Dzhur as translator), delivered the benediction.

Many of us can get awfully jaded sometimes about the American experience, but to participate in something like this with people who have made incredible sacrifices to get here, and stay here, and who really do look upon the United States in a way as a promise land is very moving.

The preacher was the Rev. Josha Verwers of Full Faith Christian Church, who did a nice job, and the other performers --- Tony Irving and Luke Willis --- were in good voice, too. Plus we got to sing as a group traditional songs this year, “Faith of our Fathers” and “God Bless America.” Who could ask for more?

I counted participants from 13 churches, which is very good in a community where quite a few congregations decline to participate in ecumenical events out of fear they’ll either go to hell or miss the passing of the collection plate.

We had First Christian (Disciples of Chirst), St. Andrew’s Episcopal. First Presbyterian of Chariton and First Presbyterian of Lucas, First United Methodist of Chariton and Faith United Methodist of Russell, First Lutheran, First Church of the Nazarene, the Ukraine Christian Church, Community of Christ, Full Faith Christian Center, First Baptist and Sacred Heart Catholic.

I figured we’d be retreating to Johnson Auditorium, so didn’t take a camera --- and that actually was kind of nice, too.

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