All Peoples Baptist Church
Dianne Steele met Hunter and me in the parking lot at 10:45 a.m. I thought I was prepared for what was coming, a Baptist religious experience with a predominately Korean congregation. In retrospect, I was pretty clueless.
Mrs. Steele introduced us to several people at the entrance. The doors opened into a simple foyer with a table of pamphlets and bulletins. The sanctuary was large with lots of angular off-white walls. The seating was cushioned metal chairs of a dusty rose color. The room would probably seat 150-200 people. The stage, or dais, was wide, extending across the front of the sanctuary. There was a simple wood table at its back with bouquets of lilies, candles and a Bible. An elegant, backlit cross hung above the sunken baptistry. Front and center was the pulpit, a clever cross design as viewed from the front. Above and to the left, hung a poster with Korean symbols, and to the right a screen displayed song lyrics and other messages. There was a large bouquet at front and center.
The sanctuary had a cathedral ceiling. Hanging from the corners and center were large loudspeakers. To the rear, a backlit stained glass panel depicted Christ’s ascension, and there was a wood-railed balcony above.
The service began with a prayer and song by music pastor Jeff. The choir was made up of three women singers, a bass player, keyboards and drums. Pastor Jeff played a black acoustic guitar.
The service progressed as many services do: Opening prayer, hymn, confession and forgiveness prayer, reading, sermon, hymn, offering, announcement and benediction. It was entirely in Korean with an interpreter broadcasting over a radio earphone.
The reading was from Psalms 37: 1-13, and Pastor Seung (Sean) H. Choi took his sermon from the reading. This is where things were a little unpredictable. The speakers over which the pastor spoke were very loud, but the interpreter whispered. On the one hand, it was a little confusing, but on the other, it was comforting because since the service was traditional, I knew what was going on the entire time.
Pastor Sean opened the sermon talking about the benefits of raising children in a three-generation household. Grandparents don’t tend to punish, but parents do. If a child is not punished enough, he or she becomes arrogant. If punished too much, the child may be fearful. (My interpretation of the interpreter.) In a way, the pastor compared that parental relationship to a congregant’s relationship to God as outlined in the psalm which includes the phrase, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” But more than that, he said, don’t be jealous of evildoers apparent prosperity, and don’t get involved in the larger world’s battles. The wicked will lose in the end, he said.
“Those who believe will be rewarded; those who do not will be punished because He is the judge … take this knowledge to heart.”
After the service, there was a potluck in the “education building” adjacent to the church. Again, even though some of the food was unfamiliar (although excellent), the potluck was exactly the same in spirit and style to hundreds I’ve participated in. The people were helpful and giving, and the conversation was easy and relaxing, like talking to members of my family.
Want to introduce Brian to your place of worship? Call 324-4440 ext. 3525.