Sometimes it’s hard to verbalize why we like or don’t like certain things. Why do you like this? I dunno, I just do. Why don’t you like that? Just because.
Until recently, I felt like those tepid responses (ok, maybe a little more elaborate … I do have an English degree) were all I could offer when talking about why I love Calvary Baptist Church and why I dislike going back to the church I grew up in (Hampton Road). After attending my old church for two weeks in a row, I no longer have the problem of not being able to verbalize. Here we go:
1) Anyone who goes to Calvary can attest to Julie’s gift of delivering a sermon in such a way that makes the whole congregation feel as though they are part of a conversation. At the church I grew up in I felt as thought I was being preached at in the form of a bullet-point list, and I didn’t feel as though the sermons could relate to my life or challenge me in any way.
2) If you want to participate in the service at Calvary, all you have to do is ask. I’ve seen children as young as five help with the offering, teenagers read scripture, and senior citizens greet everyone at the door with the bulletin. At Hampton Road the only way you can be involved in any of the afformentioned activities is to have the title of Usher or Deacon bestowed upon you. Which leads me to my next point …
3) We all know Julie is Calvary’s pastor. Julie is obviously a woman. In fact, Calvary’s staff is pretty balanced when it comes to gender. It’s one of the things that makes Calvary special. Hampton Road on the other hand … there are no women in leadership positions. Not even the children’s minister is a woman. No women deacons or ushers. No woman ever prays during the worship service. In fact, a woman cannot even lead a class by herself that men are in – she has to have her husband or some sort of male counterpart. To me, now more than ever, this seems grossly unbalanced. And it is. And it’s a shame.
By saying all this I’m not saying that I hate Hampton Road or that it’s run by bad people. In fact, I think the leadership there have the potential to be enlightened of the evils of the Southern Baptist Convention and make some positive changes.
Until that happens, however, I’ll make the weekly trek down I-35 to darken Calvary’s doors. Maybe I’ll even get to celebrate giraffe Sundays.