Sunday, April 7, 2013
I normally go to church on Good Friday to honour the event which is the foundation of the central Christian doctrine of Redemption. Which is how I came to attend St. John's Presbyterian at Annerley for the first time last Good Friday. I was quite impressed by various things about the church and its congregation, however, so I decided that a return trip was in order. So I went there again today.
To my surprise, the congregation was even larger than on Good Friday. The church was about 80% full. That is remarkable vitality for a Protestant church these days -- when many churches have been abandoned through disuse.
The service was simpler than any other that I can remember: No doxology and no "amen" after each hymn. Though there was the triple "amen" at the end of the service. And they didn't even call the church announcements "intimations"! Small things that you have to be in the know to notice but they confirmed my suspicion that this was an unusually fundamentalist congregation in the "Wee Free" (Free Church of Scotland) tradition.
So I attended the morning tea afterward and had a chat to a few people. And we were able to discuss scripture and church doctrine! Mouths would have been agape had I tried that among an Anglican congregation! I was in fact slightly humbled when I mentioned Spurgeon. It turned out that the people I was talking to knew even more about him than I did!
So I was able to confirm that this was indeed a very old-fashioned congregation. And in fact I was told that quite a few of the congregation were refugees from other Presbyterian churches that had "modernized". Hence the large size of the congregation. As my own religious background was very fundamentalist, I felt very much at home there.
Anne enjoyed the visit too. Church figures largely in her background too. She even liked the sermon!