WHEN MY HUSBAND AND I MOVED TO A FARMING NEIGHBORHOOD in a new state, we wanted to get to know our new community right away, especially since it was not like any environment we had lived in before. Because church attendance is at the core of our lives, I suggested we meet fellow townspeople whose hearts are also with church. So that first Sunday I suggested we visit the local Congregational church. What I didn't realize was what we would take from our visit, and how much it would enrich our activities in the local branch Church of Christ, Scientist, we wound up joining.
We felt a little shy approaching the white 19th-century church, so we were reassured when two friendly greeters outside the front door welcomed us immediately, shook our hands, and handed us an order of service. As we made our way down the aisle, looking hesitantly at people to see where we could slip into a pew, many of the churchgoers smiled and made eye contact with us. And we smiled back.
Early in the service my husband and I realized we didn't know "the drill," so to speak. When exactly to stand or sit, for example. We were glad that the minister informed the congregation of what to do: "Please remain standing now for the lesson" (which was a Scriptural reading). This church had an obvious desire to help visitors follow the service. It meant that even at this small, rural church, the members expected visitors to come. It was a reminder to me to expect visitors, both Wednesdays and Sundays, at my future church, and I saw how we could help them follow the service more easily.