Sunday, November 05, 2006

Church #24: Eastgate Baptist Church

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.

ERICA: 6.5.
BRADLEY: 5. This was a very average church.

3. Picture(s) of the church

4. Name/location of the church:
Eastgate Baptist Church
717 Barg Salt Run
Cincinnati, OH 45244

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
Kind of... by a giant electronic billboard that can be seen from 275.

6. Time/duration of services:
10:45am--12:20pm. Yikes.

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

8. Who did you meet?
Sorry, had to high-tail it after services.

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

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

ERICA: First off, this church is hard to find. I knew it existed because of a giant electronic marquee that you can see from 275. However, I had no way of actually finding the church, until the marquee finally finally flashed its address and I was able to reverse-engineer some directions out of it.

The first thing I noticed when I pulled in was that there was designated "widow parking." This was a first for me.

We were greeted warmly (I need a new adverb) when we arrived, and it was clear where we were supposed to go because people were swarming in. We found a seat with some personal space but for the most part the church was fairly full.

There was a lot of singing. There was a mini-sermon/speech and then the real sermon, delivered by a traveling preacher. I liked this guy; he had moxie. Toward the end it took the standard turn toward "it's time to accept Christ, if you haven't"... but I didn't mind it much, because I really liked the personal stories and message that the guy brought with him. The only reason I was kind of itching to go was because we were heading for the two-hour mark. (Coincidence: a sermon about sacrificing things for the church, as I am sweating because I'm late enough to practice that I need to skip lunch, haha.)

Then more songs. More talking. Then *four* baptisms. I hated feeling like I had to hurry hurry hurry because I felt that I really had to miss a warm moment. All four kids were in the same family and they seemed very sweet. I wanted to really enjoy watching this rite of passage but I was already looking for my way out.

On the whole the church was inviting and really operated like a community. While I don't think that Baptist is "the religion for me," they seemed to have their hearts in the right place, from organizing their missions to trying to make guests feel welcomed.

Oh! Just remembered... ack. When Bradley and I first got to our seats, we looked for the visitor cards. There were none, so we put our info on a tithe envelope. Then, after one of the songs when the congregation was standing, the pastor asked that guests raise their hands to get a visitor card to fill out. Uhhhhh... no. I'm typically not a shy person but with everyone standing there, looking around to see who raised their hands... that was not going to happen. I felt so incredibly put on the spot by that. I think that if you don't keep your visitor cards in the pews or in the weekly program, you ought to just make mention of where to find them as you're leaving. Being singled out when you're in a strange new church is a terrifying feeling, and I doubt I'm alone on that.

BRADLEY: Earlier, Erica was talking about the large sign out out front that made this church had to find. While this had us looking around for a while, trying to find the church, we finally pulled into the "visitor" spot-and headed in. Despite the friendly greetings, and the large amount of people, everyone seemed to wrapped up in their own little worlds, talking about family and friends.

We got in and took some seats near(ish) the front. After a forever of songs, they headed into the announcments-which felt ackward to me. The man giving the announcments kept talking about the Mexican children that the donations were helping. In my mind, the way he was saying that just didn't feel right. Anyway, when sermon time rolled around, I was very happy with how it went.

The speaker was a king older gentleman, who was just sooo cool. His voice had a strange little accent to it, and his stories were amazing. The message finally formed into a sad shape by the end, but everything wrapped up in a nice little package. While the sermon was amazing, the actual service started to run very long. Maybe the longest we've been to yet. And then, on top of that, they were haveing four baptizms. While this wasn't a problem, it did however, compound the time. But finally, the church service was over, and left me feeling good.

I loved that sermon.


Also! We received thank you letters from First Church. You're welcome to read it... let me know if you need me to transcribe. It's a form letter, which is why I'm not writing it out, but we definitely still appreciate the gesture of getting something in the mail as a follow-up.