My friend, Ti Ti, invited our family to an Ethiopian church last Sunday.
Here is a picture of us before we went (clearly we had no idea what to wear so we wore a little of everything):
The church was everything I wished more non-denominational “white” churches would be like.
Instead of emphasizing the individual’s need to hear the message (“I must put my child into the free childcare so I can hear this message”) it is more about the community of the church.
Children are allowed in the main room where the room is full of fragrant incense and they only speak Amharic. Also, you must take your shoes off before you enter.
People can leave that room and bring their children to a small house in the back where there is Amharic lessons using songs about Jesus and biblical stories. Everyone is welcome in this room. Samuel seemed to have some flashbacks of the orphanage and began worrying we were dropping him off there- so we stayed in this room with both boys for about 30 minutes.
Ti Ti has a baby that she wanted to quiet, and brought us into my favorite room of the entire church. The service is up on a flatscreen TV, but people are talking to one another and women come over and offer fresh baked bread and tea. On each table there are fresh Ethiopian herbs to put in your tea. I now am determined to grow them at my house. It was that good. While all this is going on, priests with occasionally walk through the room and people will sometimes stop to kiss the cross he is holding.
After the service has ended people go out into the courtyard to congregate. Our church also does this, so it wasn’t any news to us.
The laid back attitude of the entire service made me wish that other churches would take a hint on the importance of community DURING church services- not just after.