Today was the first time since December of 2005 that I tried out a new church. Some ex-DCers who transplanted to Winchester told me about the church they go to so I decided to check it out. And it was a good experience!
The church meet in a building, but it’s not a “church” building with a steeple and everything. This church had all the tells of a “modern” worship experience. Free coffee and pastries, a welcome center, a dimly lit room with rows of chairs and background music playing. A stage with the band setup, including a drumset with a shield. Some people were already sitting, others were lingering out in the gathering area. Some people came in late.
The service as a whole was really nice. It was about 70 minutes, including 2 baptisms and 4-5 songs of worship. I was apprehensive about the worship team but it was a really solid group and I really liked the leader’s voice. She sang in my voice range (for once!!) We did old and new songs. The pastor preached a good message on Colossians 2 that really hit my spirit. No one sought me out and said hi, but honestly, I’d rather have it that way. After the service I went to the welcome center and received my welcome mug! The person I talked to suggested that I find out about the small groups.
My favorite part of it all was the baptisms. Two kids got baptized, but they weren’t babies. One was a boy about 8-9 and a girl who I would say was 12. They did the baptisms in the middle of worship, which I thought was really cool. Didn’t wait until the end, they did it when everyone’s attention spans were all still good. At this church, as an option, parents are allowed to baptize their kids, which I think is awesome.
Before the baptisms, the pastor said that just as in weddings when he tells married people that “this should be a time for the renewal of your vows,” witnessing someone else’s baptism
is a time to reflect on your own baptism and die to yourself again, right there. The boy’s father baptized him and it was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. He asked the boy the questions and proclaimed him a follower of Jesus. The boy was, I think, dealing with a combination of the water being cold and being scared. He was facing his father and kept leaning into him and hiding his face in his father’s neck. The kid was dunked three times, one for each the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. What an experience to have with your child. And what an amazing picture of faith, love, commitment, and family that was.
The pastor says they will continue having baptisms every week until everyone who feels ready to be baptized has done it. I really like the importance they place on baptism. And I like how entrenched in Scripture the message was.
What a blessing it is to find a community of believers in a new place. It is a privilege to be able to worship God openly in this country and have that connection. I am thankful.