a little something extra

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Church of What's Happenin' Now (part 1 of many)

My friend Tripp is largely responsible for drawing me into the blogosphere. Organized religion is a big part of his blog content, though far from the only thing you'll find there -- you'll also get updates from early married life, musings on travel, and gig dates for what I have all faith is a damn fine Irish band.

One would expect Tripp to blog a lot about religion. He's a professional. I, on the other hand, am an amateur, and have found it hard to get started blogging about my religious life. (Not to be confused with my spiritual life... but that'll be another post.)

Then in a phone conversation last week, my mom gave me the title I needed to get started. She told me about "The Church of What's Happenin' Now," a recurring sketch on "Laugh-In" (which I am too young to remember) that starred Flip Wilson (whom I am not too young to remember) as Reverend Leroy.

These days, I'm attending a church that could easily be called "The Church of What's Happenin' Now." Let me tell you about them. Other posts will cover my history prior to this church, my definition of fundamentalism, and my deep doubt that I will ever properly join a church.

This is the congregation I've been attending for the last couple of months: Shepherd of the Hills United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ. (I'd give you a link, but their site has been down for a few weeks.) I've since discovered that there are at least three other congregations in this area also called Shepherd of the Hills. We have a lot of hills... apparently, they all need shepherding.

UCC is a hippy lefty Protestant sect that came about in 1957 from a combination of Congregationalist, and Evangelical and Reformed Churches. Their motto is "God is still speaking," -- this in my twisted mind made the leap to "The Church of What's Happenin' Now."

Shepherd of the Hills (hereafter SOTH) has as its senior minister a Welshman who rejoices in the fabulous name of Sion Huw Anwyl. He goes by Huw or Dr. Anwyl, pronounced more or less "ann-wool". And he may not think his name is fabulous, but I do. He has the sonorous voice and inimitable accent one would expect of any Welshman, and he does things like jaunt over to the University of Tehran to give guest lectures. But at any SOTH service, one will hear twice as much from lay people as one does from Dr. Anwyl. The ministry staff at SOTH also includes a Native American minister who leads a weekly Song of the Earth service on Saturday afternoons, and the hardest working man in the director-of-music-ministry business.

The congregation most weeks is about 50-60 people, including a very active youth and children's contingent, a choir of fewer than ten people, and a band. This is the first church I've ever been to that has a band. Depending on who's there, you might hear a great pianist, a keyboard player, percussionist (hand instruments, not trap set), trumpet, flute, guitar and bass.

That'll get us started.


At 8:51 AM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

Ah, the Reverend Leroy...Now, he was a great man of God.

I should poke around and see what I can find out about your recent congregational find. I know a UCC minister or two here in Chicago who might know of SOTH.

I look forward to your musings on this congregation and your experiences with them.

Have fun in the hills!

At 9:49 AM , Blogger meeegan said...

You remember Rev. Leroy? I'm impressed!

At 8:12 PM , Blogger Quev said...

I've been horribly remiss in keeping up with my friends' blogs, for which I apologize.

Like the previous commenter, I very much look forward to your reflections on religion and spirituality both. You think deeply and speak eloquently on the subjects, and I always respect what you have to say, even when our viewpoints differ. Make that "especially when our viewpoints differ."


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