Posted by Unknown |

Church Hopping

One of the joys of being on holidays from work at a Church is the opportunity to visit other churches. Yesterday Ryan and I took full advantage of that. Yesterday for the first time ever in my life I went to 4 different church services, in 4 different churches of 4 different denominations in 2 different states. Posh. We had to get up very early to achieve that feat but it was worth it.

Act 1

St Peter's Anglican Church, Coolangatta 7am

Very early, the morning sun made the church look nice and crisp. The first thing I saw when we entered the church was an old lady slapping the organ at the back of the church to keep another who was playing it in time. We were the youngest people there except for one girl who I think got dragged along by her mum. Most of the other people there seemed to be over 60. A lot of old men and ladies. Old ladies are very good at smiling at you. It was your typical early morning country service. They weren't very high church, less than I expected. It was very quick. The sermon was on Jesus getting baptised, but I found it difficult to pay attention.

I liked it though, probably because I liked the friendly old people. The minister talked to us afterwards. He fitted well into the stereotype that most ministers are a bit strange.

Act 2

St Augustines' Catholic Church, Coolangatta 8:15am

The Catholic church was big and on the hill. It had a blue neon cross on top. We walked in with lots of other people, it was a very popular church. Everyone did the holy water thing and crossed themselves. It was a little strange for me. I left them too it, and felt a bit like a heathen. Then they all genuflected to the cross at the front, which we also failed to do, heathenish that we are (not that they thought we were heathens, that's just how I felt).

There was a lady up the front leading singing, doing audience warm ups. She reminded us of Wing which was very cool. Although that probably wasn't the intended effect.

The priest walked in and we got underway. I felt a little lost as there were no Bibles, Prayer Books, or hymn books, so following along was a little hard. Perhaps this is how life in church was pre-reformation, except everything was in Latin back then too. Thank God for Martin Luther bringing hymn books to the people.

Some of the stuff I could join in because it was the same as the Anglicans ("The Lord be with you" And also with you "Let us lift our hearts" We lift them to the Lord.) but the rest of it I didn't follow. The sermon was again on Jesus' baptism by John. I think maybe that this sermon was a little better executed but I still had trouble paying attention. What I heard wasn't particularly inspiring. The priest did this thing where he threw water at every one. That was cool. Kinda like when people throw their water bottles around in mosh pits.

Communion was had but we didn't join in because we probably weren't allowed.

No one talked to us, but we got a few polite smiles during the greeting of the peace.

Act 3

Coolangatta Christian Outreach Centre 10am (or so the sign said)

The charismatic service of the day, started at 9:30am but sign out the front that we had found the night before said 10am, so we were half an hour late (They had another sign that I think may have gone up that morning which said the correct time). Didn't matter, they were still singing.

There were about 12 adults and a scattering of kids, and a young guy in a bright yellow shirt, with a guitar, leading the singing up the front. He was very enthusiastic. They sang a song that I didn't know then "Light of the World" which I do. I sung along to that but didn't put my arms up when told to. As soon as we arrived a lady down the front came and whispered "Hello" to us, felt welcomed.

The kids went out to Sunday School and the guy in the yellow shirt turned out to be the pastor and a very enthusiastic one at that. Most sentences were finished with an "Amen?", which didn't usually get a response. It was good seeing him so energetic. As Ryan said, he was a big pastor in small church. The sermon was on the importance of small groups. I agreed with a lot of what he said, and I was very able to pay attention (Ryan thought I looked bored), but I felt that the main passage was taken right out of context. He was also very good at making absolute statements that a lot of people wouldn't be comfortable to make. But very passionate. It must be hard being the pastor in such a small church, having such big dreams, and day in and day out, struggling to see some fruit come.

After the service we both talked to different people, they were a very welcoming church. The pastor made me promise to talk to him before we left. He was still very energetic and he prayed for Ryan that he would find a church. I liked that. I liked him taking an interest and praying for someone totally outside his pastoral responsibilities, and who he would probably never meet again.

We left there feeling good and blessed.


We had nothing to do following the COC so it was off to the YHA for a bit of a kip. We went into town for lunch and spent ages after lunch browsing an antique collectible store. What a cool store. Full of war stuff, old appliances, toy cars, stickers, license plates and what got my attention the most, Coke memorabilia. I had fun in there. Coke stuff still excites me. I found stuff that I have hidden away in my collection on sale for lots of money. Good times.

We went to the beach too. I got caught in a rip just as we were planning to get out and got dragged across the beach and out to where I couldn't stand. I tried to swim away (I'm not sure where I was headed though). But that didn't work and I couldn't remember where you were meant to swim to when you get caught in a rip anyway. I got a little worried, and started having horrible thoughts of having to be rescued and all the people on the beach laughing at me. Luckily, I used my finely honed beach skills and used the waves to take me in where I could stand again and I walked back to safety. All that took about 2 minutes. We left after that and went home for a shower and a scrub up for our last "gathered body" experience of the day.

Act 4

Tweed Heads Presbyterian Church 7pm (or so the sign said)

We were half an hour late to this one too, but there was no sign that signaled that the time had changed. They said they were "just trying something different for January".

We walked in during the prayers. There were about 25 people sitting in a hot, stuffy hall with an overhead projector at the front projecting prayer points on to a screen. Everyone had their heads bowed and were looking very earnest and prayerful. The pastor's wife got us both chairs and said "Hello" (how good are pastor's wives?). The prayers were followed quickly by the sermon. This one was on discipleship. The passage was Peter walking on water. The sermon was good, but I found it a little difficult to concentrate again (perhaps I was too much in holiday mode).

The service ended with a Geoff Bullock song, and an apology from the pastor to all those people who turned up at seven and only got a half hour service.

We talked to the pastor's wife afterwards. She was very nice. While we were talking to her, a girl who was also visiting from Sydney came and introduced herself to us all. That was very brave, we were most impressed. She was a nice person too. The pastor met us at also and had a chat, he was a good too. It was all very pleasant and probably closest to what I'm used to. It reminded me a bit of St Peter's while I was leading it in 2002.

For dinner we had Japanese noodles one last time, and said "Good-bye" to our good friend the noodle lady. We went home to bed for an early rise in the morning for the trip home.