Thursday, August 6, 2015

Church is Church is Church

For the record, I did go to Westminster Abbey, but I didn’t like it, so I will talk about a different church that I visited and liked better.

If you weren’t aware, I’m a Lutheran. That means a lot of things, but for the sake of this blog post, it means that there are not a ton of Lutheran churches in England. Like, seven. I’m pretty sure I could drive you to seven that are within a thirty minute distance from my house.

I mean, not that you’d want to go on a church-finding adventure, or that it would be our number one hangout choice, but it would be an option on the table.

Anyway, being as Papa (for those of you just tuning in: my grandpa) is also Lutheran, and has been to England before, he decided we would go to St. Anne’s Lutheran church. And we did. Kaboom.

1. Welcome to an Ambiguous Church Building

I’m not really used to high walls or courtyards. Never really had a need mile-high. Somehow we found the church hidden among the architecture, mostly empty, mostly quiet. The St. Mary at Hill church building seems to play host to several churches, as well as other venues, I think. These people do not have the most explanatory websites I’ve ever seen. It was… unusual.

2. Meet the Cool Lady Pastor

I didn’t anticipate a lady pastor. Like, there should be way more lady pastors and I actually got to see a family friend’s ordination a few years ago and it was awesome, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to expect lady pastors when I show up at a new church. But she killed it, man—she had a very pastor voice. Even though she wasn’t the one preaching I was still pleased.


The nice thing about having a liturgy is that you can basically go anywhere and not look stupid because you don’t know how to church in that particular church. There was a baptism. There was communion. There was the sharing of the peace. I KNOW HOW TO DO THAT BUSINESS LIKE A BOSS. But I’ve had eighteen years of practice.

4. Listen to the Food Sermon

Who does not love food, I ask you? Food is great, and the sermon was all about food! Namely, how communion is us becoming God’s body and all that stuff, which was good, and important. I was more in agreement with the intern pastor than I sometimes am with my own pastor. Also, he said a lot of smart things about food that are totally in alignment with my feelings about Leverage and Firefly. I kind of felt like clapping but you don’t clap at sermons. Sometimes you should be able to, though.

5. I Am Not Convinced of Raccoon Communion

For anyone who has never had different communion styles, there are a lot of different ways to do communion. There’s pilgrim style or kneeling style and you can use a whole loaf or wafers and kids can have communion or maybe they can’t. I had never actually heard of nictitating before Papa warned me basically five minutes before the service started. Nictitating means that you get your wafer and then you dip it into the wine. It’s lovely and symbolic but I still do not like it. I am a Lutheran, not a raccoon, and what if it is germy in that wine? I don’t like sharing germs with my family—how do you think I feel about sharing germs with strangers? It was okay communion as far as communion goes but I still like my little plastic cups.

Also, wine is so disgusting.

This is a thing I found outside the church and it was hilarious.

And there you go. That is my adventures in church—yay church! Going to church was a good feeling, maybe not because I knew anyone but because it was familiar and enjoyable. It was a little more formal than I’m used to but you can’t limit that Jesus Booyah.

How is visiting new churches for you? I have a lot of experience in that. It’s a little awkward when you’re visiting a church that isn’t the same denomination or religion as you, but that is another story. I’d love to hear yours, though. Do you have any experiences, good or bad, in a church you were visiting?


  1. Hi Heather! I've been following your blog for a few months now, but I'm finally going to comment ha ha (your blog posts are really good. I told my sister about the one where you talked about skipping to the end of the book first, because she does that every time!).
    Anyway, I found this blog post most interesting. I've never been to Europe, but my mom has, and I think she's been to a lot of the churches in England. I used to go to a Lutheran church (though I was Episcopalian) but now I'm Catholic, and it's interesting how different communion styles are. I totally know how "visiting" a church different from your denomination. I was an Episcopalian attending a Catholic school! Mass always made me awkward, because I couldn't receive communion, but the styles of churches also made it strange. My Lutheran church was more simplistic whereas the Catholic church was larger, with statues and higher ceilings. But it was still a really neat place. I really like the sermon from that pastor. Though I have a slightly different view of what communion is, I think that kind of sermon is awesome. As far as the styles, I totally remember the kneeling one, and the nictitating style! And I agree with you on not knowing how to church in that particular church. Once I was at this studies program camp in NC and what was cool was on Sundays they would take the church kids to churches of their denomination. So I went to the Catholic church, but it was so big and so different from my '60s octagon style church where I live xD And I remember getting freaked out because I didn't know anyone there and that's always nerve wracking lol. So by the time peace came I did shake hands with the kids in my group but I always shy around people I don't know xD But let's just say they played a VBS song I knew at the end and I was pumped. It was so awesome.
    So yeah visiting churches is awkward, but I think for the most part it's because of the people there. You don't know any of the pastors/priests personally, nor do you know anyone around you. So it takes away that family feel that one might normally feel at their regular church xD

    1. Welcome, Grace! I'm glad to be meeting you. :)

      (And give my regards to your sister. We people who read the ends need to stick together!)

      There are lots of interesting differences to notice when you visit different churches, aren't there? It must have been a little odd going to churches other than your denomination, but I'm sure it was quite an eye-opener for you. I do realize that Catholics have different ideas about what communion is, but that's okay.

      XD It can be alarming in an unfamiliar church, no? One time I was attending a Catholic church to see my best friend get confirmed, and instead of going to communion I went and hid in the bathroom because I didn't know what to do with myself, haha. I am not the biggest fan of the peace, either, but it's important, so I kind of do it. XD

      Hanging around strangers can be hard, yes, but even if it isn't a family you're familiar with, I guess the thought I'll have to remind myself next time is that it's just a part of my family I've never met before!

      Thanks for visiting, Grace, and I hope to see you again soon!

  2. What a great opportunity for you! I love visiting other churches. I've found that the most genuine churches are always the smaller ones. I've taken communion lots of different ways, and to me it doesn't really matter because in the end they all have the same common denominator; it's designed to help Christians remember the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross.

    Great post! Super interesting:)

    1. Smaller churches do have something special to them, don't they? Of course, I've never been to something crazy like a megachurch, so maybe I can't talk. Anyway, yes, even though communion can be awkward sometimes, in the end it's all about God's love for us in physical form. Yay for that. :)

      Thanks for reading, Sunny!

  3. Nice Curch! It's unlike any other achurch I've been to: all my Churches have had a homely vibe to them. I had just one question though: what do you think seperates Lutheran from, say, a Methodist or Roman Catholic? So, from other other subsets of Christianity?

    1. I guess it might have been a stranger that it felt less homely to me. The people were all very kind and I really enjoyed the service!

      *reads Jo's question*
      *awkward rabbit face*

      So... I am NOT a theologian. NOT. NOT NOT NOT. But if I were to say a few things... Historically Lutheranism came during the reformation, meaning that it splits directly off of Roman Catholicism instead of Methodism, which was a reform of the Church of England which was a reform of Catholicism. Other big things that mark out Lutheranism as an individual identity is that we only have two sacraments, are a faith-based sect, and see scripture as a final authority on all matters (as a whole; there are variances within). We're a little more liberal than the Roman Catholic church but a little more conservative than the Methodist church.

      Does that help?

  4. Your mention of high walls and courtyards made me smile, because when I was a little girl living in Africa we had both a) a high wall with glass shards on top, b) a spiked gate, and c) a courtyard, so when I moved back to America it was far too open for me and I was afraid of everything. Anyway, sorry, tangent.

    I didn't know you were a Lutheran, but that's cool. I'm actually not too familiar with what it means to be a Lutheran, so I wouldn't be able to church well in a Lutheran church. (I'm a Baptist, but I don't really like to label myself as a certain denomination because it feels too restrictive).

    Yes, foodie sermons sound great (and I'm with you on the Firefly love). And I agree, we should be able to clap for sermons sometimes. (Although, I guess that could be taken the wrong way.) But nictitating sounds gross--and I'm glad we use grape juice instead of wine in our church. Also, I have no clue what the sharing of the peace is. Is that a Lutheran thing? Am I missing out on something? *makes curious face*

    1. Huh, that's weird. Although I feel like the courtyards in England were probably designed with a protection in mind less necessary now, whereas in Africa you might have actually needed those measures in place? Anyway, that's interesting!

      I am. If you went to a traditional service you'd probably do okay because you can just follow along the service in the liturgy, but that's okay. You don't get extra points for doing the best job in a church service. XD (Huh, that's good to know!)

      I knowww. I love connecting church to all my fandoms. And yeah, clapping for sermons can be taken the wrong way... But it's a good way to support something without verbally commenting on it out loud. That's kind of rude. We have grape juice and wine in our church, but both of them taste nasty to me, because I have a strong suspicion that they do not buy the $1000 bottles to use during communion, lol. And the sharing of the peace is at least a Catholic and Lutheran thing. You say "Peace be with you" and "also with you" and shake hands and say hi to people and it's part of our liturgy. Since Baptists are more removed in the line of reformations it might not be in yours.

      Thanks for reading, Liz!


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