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Growing Up As A Catholic

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Growing up, my family practiced the catholic faith. My parents educated me as Catholic and I attended a Catholic School for women. I never really experienced another kind of faith but Catholic; all my friends and people around me were from the same church. I'm from Panama a Latin country, where 80% of the population is Catholic, the rest is divided between: Evangelist, Mormons, Baptist, etc., just to name a few. When I became an adult, have had Jewish, Muslim and without affiliations, and also I have been in Indian and Jewish religious weddings. I'm currently enrolled in Campbell University, and one of my curses is REL-125. I was assigned to attend a religious service different than mine. I had a few options, but I decided to go First Baptist Church Stedman on Sunday morning. First Baptist Church Stedman, is located at 6921 Clinton Rd. The whole church itself was ok. The Usher, the first person I see when I entered the church greet me and welcomed me and also handle me, the bulletin and an envelope attached. It was a well organized congregation of around 50 people, not too many to look around like you usually see in a Catholic church. I saw a cross but the cross did not have Jesus on it. Everyone who was there was very well dresses; ladies wearing hats and nice dresses and man wearing formal suit. Even the preacher was dressed in formal attire. The choir was spectacular, is the best word to describe it, very organized and the congregation seems to know the songs and enjoyed. It was very entertaining the form of worship they used through the singing. They sang a lot of songs, after every interval described in the program. When the service started, one of the church attendees read the Opening Selection followed by Pastor's Invocation and welcome everybody. One thing that called my attention was, every time they sing it was a five minutes song. They worshiped God on each one. I don't notice that until later, and I was wondered how long is the service. As they end the singing another church attendant read the Responsive Reading, they gave all the attendant an additional page attached to the bulletin, entitled: The Resurrection of Jesus in Matthew 28:1-8. The Priest instructed everybody to stand up and the Choir sang another song, followed by the reading of the scripture:

"For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hoping For who hope for what is seen? However, if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience". When he finished reading it, they prayed followed by the Church Vision Statement that says: First Baptist Church Stedman will be a church in the community that transforms the community, and will make it our aim to reconcile as many individuals as we can to God through the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus.

 At that moment, I'm still wondering what's the envelope for. Differently, as we do in Catholic church, I was waiting for the pastor speech. They read the announcements for the community. It was like a fifteen-minute announcement, after that they called the visitors to stand up. At this time, I have been at that church around an hour and fifteen minutes. I stand and introduced myself as a visitor. The entire congregation came over to greet every single visitor, as to welcome them personally. Pastor's Brief, I was wondering what is that? It was the replay of the announcements but now by the pastor. And then, the Tithes & Offering start, that's when I realized, what's the envelope for? I have to put money on it with my name and address, of course I don't have the interest to be part of that church, so I just walk to the front and put the envelope on a basket. Suddenly, the priest everybody to stand up and read the scripture again followed by the Sermon. It was lengthy and noisy, but presented and explained very well. It was good it was about faith. It made me realize that no matter how things may look wo keep believing and expecting good things from God; don't give up. Hope is expectancy; there is no hope if we always know what God has for us. Real hope says: God will touch me. We got to be patient, and when we are patient God will come to our rescue. He may not be there when you want it, but it will be there on time when you need it. I enjoyed. More singing, and then, the priest called those one seeking salvation to come forward. There a few people who went forward, and he starts praying with his hand over their head; after praying with a lady, she is faint, I don't know what happened, I thought to that only happen on TV shows. It was a very long and unexpected religious service. As we were blessed, the pastor walk outside first and stood in the front of the church to greet and say goodbye to the congregation. As I walk outside he approached me and start asking me questions like: Where I live, Where I come from? And then say "We are very grateful you attend our service today, we hope to see you next Sunday". I know there are a lot of different kinds of Baptist church, I don't just generalize all of them with one experience, but I don't think I will return any time soon.


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