Monday, December 24, 2007

Church with the Knutsons

My daughter and her husband moved back to Chattanooga last year at Christmas. It was an exciting and chaotic holiday with the Knutsons-- Joel, Katie, Josiah, and Eden-- all added to our household!

When they lived in ATL, they tried various churches in the Vineyard network, and even one or two that were general charismatic congregations. You see, they have decided to leave the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition, and become charismatic.

So when they moved to Chattanooga, they found a small Vineyard on the North Shore that seemed to suit them. We visited this church with them last Christmas and found it to be a fairly calm fellowship made up of white families, mostly millenials, with a scattering of boomers and homeless people. This church actually serves Sunday dinner to homeless people, and invites them to come to the service afterward, which meets at 5:30 PM.

The leaders of this flock are Bucky and Becky Buckles. Katie said they are from a United Methodist background, and grew up going to the Resurrection Youth Conference in Gatlinburg, TN. The significance of this is that I was engaged as the guest worship leader with band and production for that event for over ten years in the 80s and 90s. So Katie's new church, including the worship leader at this Vineyard, is connected to our families' experiences and to my performance talents.

We worshiped there Sunday evening on my day off from our church, and it became apparent that this is a good choice for our daughter and her husband. The people are similar in economic and professional status, and the group is small and warm. Many seem to be on the rebound from traditional churches and the whole service has the tone of the emerging church movement.

The first time we visited was different. It seemed unfocused and ill planned. Now the ill planning is actually a specific avoidance of traditional plans. It is almost as if there is a concerted effort to avoid churchiness. There is little or no explanation of what is happening, and the music flows without comment. There was one glitch in the program when the children came up for a song and the praise team didn't even stop to acknowledge them. The kids left the stage ignominiously and came back when they were supposed to!

Narrations came via microphone from the back, and were accompanied by simple slide shows on the screen. The message of the evening was read by a woman from an article on the subject of peace on earth, and contained a decidedly anti-war tack. This is obviously not a preaching movement.

It took us back to the 1970s when we started our own church. Our church, however, began with a distinctly social action theme and the form that our worship took was not anti-establishment that I could tell, aside from our economic limitations and our modern music. The radical element in our store front work was its focus on mercy and justice, the amplified music and mixed racial agenda, and the pseudo-hippie look.

Bucky and Becky came out of the United Methodist Church, and the service showed their own cultural roots. It's definitely not Methodist culturally, but it fits with UMC theology.

One thing we appreciate about North Shore Vineyard is that they welcome homeless people into their service, and feed them on Sunday afternoon.

When Beth and I were married, we came together from two different denominational focuses-- Reformed Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist. In turn, we joined a church movement that departed from our upbringing in the form of urban ministry.

Now our daughter and her husband are joining their marriage with a unique fellowship that establishes new traditions and ecclesiastical paths for them and their children.

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About Me

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I am a person who is perceived as youthful, although I am in my late 50s. I play and sing music, and it tends to keep me in the culture, like a lot of young people do. I am a "high I" on the DISC Behavioral Test, which means I'm optimistic, enthusiastic, a team player, and I motivate others toward goals. I don't like exercise, but I have a high metabolism, so I don't tend to be overweight at this time in my life! I have recently been doing moderate exercise and physical therapy for a shoulder condition.