Sunday, July 23, 2006

Church #11: Branch Hill United Methodist Church

(Bradley forgot his camera this week, so this picture was taken from the church's website.)

1. Who attended? Bradley & Erica.

How was the experience?
1: I was so uncomfortable and/or offended that I did not stay to the end of services.
10: This church was welcoming and thought-provoking. I would recommend that others experience this church.

BRADLEY: 8. I really enjoyed this Church, and how they did what they did.

3. Picture(s) of the church

4. Name/location of the church:
Branch Hill United Methodist Church
370 Bridge Street
Loveland, OH 45140

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
No-- we found it while driving around Loveland.

6. Time/duration of services:

7. What type of religion did the church cater to?

8. Who did you meet?
Everyone was really friendly, and we shook a lot of hands. The only name I remember is Ron Foster, who was the associate pastor.

9. If applicable, scans of handouts, tracts, etc

10. Church Hopper’s personal experience with the church, additional details:

ERICA: Bradley liked this church a lot more than I did. I was a little uncomfortable at times, maybe because I still feel out of my element in "stricter" churches (now we rise, now we pray, now we sit, now we pray, now we rise, now we sing...).

The church itself was gorgeous to me, with real stained glass windows and quiet wooden floors. I told Bradley that it felt like The Church That Time Forgot, because everything in it was so... antique? Everything from the oil paintings to the chandeliers to the pews, Bibles, hymnals... for me, it was to the point that when the associate pastor pulled out a cell phone, it seemed like an anachronism and not the other way around. It was quaint in its way, which definitely holds charm for me. However, the sermon felt uninspired, the music was the least heartfelt that I've heard so far, and I left feeling altogether unmoved.

One thing that did stand out about this church was that there was a quick "children's message"-- all the children sat up near the pulpit and there was a brief message directed exclusively to them. The message wasn't particularly deep and the kids didn't seem all that into it to me, but it was still a different spin that I hadn't run into before at other churches, even the other Methodist church we'd visited.

BRADLEY: What was very odd about this Church, was the fact that on the way in to the place, I just talking to Erica about how I didn't like a Church with a "plan". By this I meant a church that had it written down what to do during the service. Telling to stand up, what to respond to, what to say, and when to sing. This church was like that, being Methodist. Anyway, when we walked in (after being confused about where to walk in I should say) we took a seat in the back, and were greeted promptley. After answering about 5 or 6 different people ask "where and you from, and why are you here?" the service started. The songs started, but I was paying more attention to the church itself. The stain glass, the dust in the corner, and the old air vents. Even the pews seemed liked they've seen a few sermons.

By now we were getting up and greeting people. After about 6 or 7 more people asking where we were from and what we were doing, (and I can't remember if this is before your after) we watched him give a mini-sermon to the group of children. You'll have to excuse my lack of knowing what it's called, but I really enjoyed it. Usually I'm not into that kinda thing, but it was really cool to see him talking to the kids, even if they weren't listening.

That moved us on to the sermon. I didn't love the message, because it was so universal, but it did it's job. I though his presentation needed some different examples of him "forgiving" in his daily life, but what are ya gonna do?. Overall, I really liked this Church. They didn't come off too strong, or not strong enought, but just right.

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