12 comments on “Worshipping On the Other Side of the Tracks

  1. Hey Dre,
    Congratulations on your efforts to explore “the other side”. If I had to describe white church (I grew up going every Sunday) it would be “boring”. I’ve attended several black churches for funerals and other functions. I’ve found them way more uplifting but unfortunately not at all inclusive. My “center of attention” experience was far more negative and filled with dirty looks and comments. Frankly, I felt as if I had opened the door to a Black Power Rally. Since some of the congregation was nice enough to pull me aside and apologize for the way I was treated and to thank me for coming (sometimes treating me like the bravest white male they had ever met) I would like to apologize for some of my overzealous compatriots. White people come in basically two shades, Guilty Whites and Deniers. Guilty Whites trip all over themselves to be seen as open-minded and apologize for the rest of us. Deniers refuse to see any culpability on their part. However, most deniers still see African Americans as equals. Some are just plain a**holes.
    As far as, “the idea of a single mother dating a man who is not the child’s biological father is pretty atypical and falls prodigiously outside of their more-traditional upbringing.” Trust me, it’s not a new
    concept to them. They’re just still in denial. Hopefully, after they get used to seeing you for a while, you’ll just be Andre. Although you’ll probably always be “Black Andre”. Just make friends with “Reformed Catholic Bill” and “Converted Jew Ron” and you’ll fit right in.

    • I agree with thehc. Andre, please forgive us for being overzealots. I don’t think it has anything to do with guilt or denial. But I do think it has to do with political correctness. Have you noticed if people in the congregation appear to walk on egg shells in asking you basic questions about yourself? Do you find yourself in the middle of windy conversations about nothing? If so, they’re probably just trying to make you feel welcome, even if they’re unintentionally making things awkward for you.

    • Hippie/Saved, your apologies are accepted. LOL!

      HipCon, I apologize on behalf of black people as well. In my experiences at black churches, I’ve seen white visitors (especially politicians during election time) mocked and ridiculed for standing out. So I understand how whites could easily feel out of place at black churches. Fortunately, my experience has been met with hostilty or ridicule. In fact, it’s been the opposite. I’ve been uncomfortably smoothered.

      Saved, I think you’re correct. Political correctness (possibly motivated by guilt, as thehc hints) is the key, I believe, to the church’s over-the-top acceptance of me and my girlfriend. I dunno. Whatever the case, I get a strange feeling there. I enjoy most aspects of the church, but that particular issue rubs me the wrong way.

  2. Andre this line in your blog totally ruined it for me:

    “How often can you say that about a black church?”

    Sorry that line just made me feel “some kind of way” when I read it. Outside of that, I’m glad that you’ve found a church that you enjoy

    • Jos, I was talking specifically about the shared pastoralship. I know I can’t make blanketed statements about how black churches are organized (especially those outside of Flint), but I NEVER seen a black church with multiple pastors. Usually you see one man’s name on the side of the building or his portrait in the vestibule. They don’t do that one-person reverence show I’ve seen at the black churches I’ve frequented.

  3. I’ve been to both black and white churches and I’ve noticed some of the same things you did, Andre. But another thing I noticed was a big difference on the denominational also. I visited an all black Southern Baptist church and they sing with soul and just seemed so filled with the Spirit (excuse my Christianese). I went to a predominantly white Roman Catholic church and their version of music/singing was solemn recordings and it was a very quiet and reserved service. It was two totally different experiences. The “black church” was quite poor and did not have AC (and it was HOT) but they were very exuberant and upbeat whereas the “white church” appeared to be well off but had no joy or tried very hard to restrain it., Currently, I attend a very mixed church and I find it to be quite fun a mix of both experiences.

  4. I think differences stem both from culture and from denomination. I have been to some fairly energetic white churches, but they were more contemporary, nondenominational or pentecostal churches. I have been to more solemn white churches, and they were less contemporary. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church which was almost all white, and it was a very energetic, lively, loud place. I went to visit my grandmother’s Baptist church, also mostly all white, and it was very traditional and “solemn” compared to what I grew up with. I’ve only been to a handful of black churches, and at each, the experience was pretty similar to what I saw growing up.

    • Hey Saved Sinner,
      Since you brought up the more “energetic white churches”, I would like to share my experience with the Charismatic Catholics. At the urging of my sister, I attended one of their small meetings. They were far more energetic and were reading scripture passionately and singing songs accompanied by a guitar. Everything was going along fine until the end of one song which ended in a prolonged “Aaaaaaaammmmeennnnnn”. At which point everyone kept humming until several started speaking in tongues and a few of them collapsed onto the floor. Soon I was the only one not on the floor speaking in tongues. For the life of me, I still don’t understand why God would talk to everyone in the room but me. I concluded that I was unworthy and stopped going.

  5. Dr. King once brilliantly noted that Sunday mornings in America were the most segregrated time. I couldn’t agree more. So I’m glad to hear that you’re ‘crossing the tracks’ to experience something new. As long as you’re getting what you need to get out of church what you think you need, the make up of the congregation is incidental. At least that’s what I think.

  6. I am wishing you the best with your new church. I can understand some of the reasons that you left the earlier churches but as you say too, church hopping isn’t an answer in itself. Many church hop to find a church that offers them things when we should be considering finding a church where we can have the opportunity to offer ourselves to God’s service.

    I am sorry that the racial issue still comes up even in church but we should rise above it cause Christ died to make us one people whether Jew or Gentile.

    My own experience has been unusual. I once visited a black church in Washington D.C. I went there with two friends. I am Chinese, my friends were from South Africa and from Kenya. That same day, a white Christian sister also attended the church. I was more than a little surprised and uncomfortable when the pastor made a big gesture from the pulpit of welcoming visitors but he only mentions me and my two friends and ignores the white girl.

    I spoke to the church youth leader after that and he admits that it was wrong but he said attitudes die hard especially among the older generation. I hope all Christians will realise that amongst Christ’s last prayers on earth was that we, his disciples would be united as one.

    Oh and Andre, I am so happy to read that you and your girlfriend are still going steady and I wish you all the best on that account as well.

  7. I smiled when I read this, because I have certainly been in that situation. … in another context, but understand all the same. At the end of the day though, no matter where you go, human beings are human beings. You going to find “issues” at any church. You know what the status quo is at black churches so you can spot that stuff immediately. but every community has their issues.

    With that said, If you do decide to stay there people will get used to you being around as you become a permanent fixture. If the race thing bothers you too much and you decided to leave you might want to try a middle of the road church (i.e. racially mixed).

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