Having grown up Catholic and only having attended Catholic mass, my Sunday morning spent at a nondenominational church was a new experience.
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Brought along by a new friend, we walked across the bridge to Cambridge and ended up at a hotel. A hotel? I thought we were going to church! We were directed to the fourth floor and when the elevator opened, I was faced with what looked like a party. There were young adults everywhere, many sporting t-shirts which named the organization whose religious service we were attending. The churchgoers were all excited to be there and welcomed us with literal open arms. We hugged, shook hands, and introduced ourselves to these other young believers in God.
After many introductions, my friend and I were ushered into the conference room where there were about 100 chairs set up facing a stage with a drum set, multiple guitarists, and a keyboard player; all practicing their chords and prepping for the service.
This was bizarre for me to see for sure. At Catholic Mass, the singing is led by a choir, and the music piped in by an organist. Never had I seen electric guitars and drums prepped to sing about “The Glory of God.”
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After the introduction of more churchgoers, the service began. What shocked me the most about the performance was the amount of singing. The songs were modern, stealing nuances from pop music and also a little bit of country. But the words were some I had heard before: “praise God,” “the never-ending love of God,” etc. However, the parishioners were much more invested in these songs than in any of the traditional Catholic hymns. People in the audience were standing and swaying with the music. Their hands were waving in the air and they were singing as loudly as they could. It was completely unlike anything I had ever seen before.
This singing continued for almost 20 minutes, but to be honest, it could have been longer, it was that easy to get caught up in it. After the concert ended, there were typical church announcements: when the next meeting was, invitations to a group lunch, and opportunities to become more involved with the organization.
Then the two pastors came to the front and began speaking. They were a team of husband and wife, each poking fun at the other to the laughter of the parish. This week’s sermon was on relationships: friendships, romantic relationships, family connections; really any relationship was applicable. While some Bible verses were included, there was no communion or specific readings from the gospel.
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The service lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes and afterward I had a lot to think about. This experience was so unlike any other church service I had ever been to. There was very little of the traditional occurrences that I associate with Church, but I liked this more modern take on Christianity. It was clear why so many of the parishioners were young adults like us, the message and way it was given was new and fresh.
Overall, I liked the experience and felt the message was one I could relate to. It was definitely a shock coming from the traditional Catholic service, but I liked that I could experience religion in a newer, more modern way.