Mystery Worshipper: Liv4ever
Church: Au Gres United Methodist
Location: Au Gres, Michigan, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 26 July 2009, 10:30am
A one story modern building painted a nice shade of grey. A detached bell tower stands to one side. There are plenty of windows and skylights that let in lots of light.
They offer a variety of ministry opportunities through worship, fellowship, study and outreach. The church appears to serve as a second church for people in the summertime who are on vacation.
Au Gres is a small community in east central Michigan on the shore of Lake Huron. It derives its name from the sandstone bottom of the river that runs through town. An important logging community in years gone by, Au Gres is today a popular tourist destination, especially for weekend visitors looking to enjoy the lake. It's a quiet town featuring several unique shops and restaurants, as well as some small businesses and manufacturing facilities.
The Revd Timothy Woycik, pastor, led the service. Sandy Proulx read the scripture lessons.
What was the name of the service?Sunday Morning Service
How full was the building?
About 85 per cent full. I would guess the church would be able to hold around 100 people or so. I heard a couple of the regular church members mention that there were a lot of guests in church on this particular Sunday.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. A nice old man shook our hands and helped to point us to a couple of empty seats.
Was your pew comfortable?
The seats were padded and comfortable. They had a place for the hymn book under each seat.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Fairly quiet, with some talking.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
I actually missed the exact words, as we were still being seated at this time. But the first thing we did was sing the opening hymn.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
A Methodist hymn book was used. I was surprised to see that very few people brought Bibles with them, since none were offered.
What musical instruments were played?
They used a piano only.
Did anything distract you?
The little girl seated next to me had a hard time sitting still.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
These folks can be described best as the "frozen chosen." This was a very traditional Methodist worship service. The hymnal was the same one that has been used for generations, and the hymns selected from it were the same as well. Certainly no hand raising or clapping during worship. I was surprised, in fact, that no one fell asleep!
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – Pastor Tim tried to keep the sermon light-hearted by telling stories as well as a few jokes. He stood directly behind the pulpit the whole time.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The pastor spoke on John 6:21 (the disciples receive Jesus into their boat and it immediately reaches shore). There is much stress in our lives. We must acknowledge God's plan for us when life gets hard.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I really liked the skylights; they let a lot of natural light in. Despite the rather stiff, staid service, the people were quite friendly and were quick to introduce themselves to us after service. I was attending church with my father; perhaps the presence of an elderly gentleman in company with his adult child is what attracted the older folks to us.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
But I was disappointed by the apparent lack of innovation in the service. Times have changed over the generations, but this was the same old Methodist worship service that my father had grown up with. It was decidedly "my father's sort of church." That's comforting in a way, I suppose, but I didn't find it particularly inspiring.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A nice elderly couple introduced themselves to us and walked us over to meet the pastor, who shook our hands. Then we sort of got "moved along" with the flow of people leaving the church. These folks may have been sedate and stern during the service, but they seemed to discover new-found energy when it was over. What you would call a "leave church quickly" bunch. By the time I had taken my photo, everyone had cleared out.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
None, and that, too, was a disappointment.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 – I would consider going back to this church the next time I go to the lake for the weekend, but I hope I would be greeted by a livelier service.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Sure. The church seemed quite friendly to newcomers. And it was nice to attend church with my father.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The fun we had at the lake AFTER church. Having sat through such a sober worship experience, we didn't expect to find any Methodists out on the lake boating, swimming, fishing or otherwise having a good time and sure enough, we didn't!