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Providence Church

My coming to Providence is the latest stage of my Christian journey. I will start at the beginning but will try to be succinct. 
I had always believed in God as a child. Not by heritage, I just took it for granted that there was a God and he was good. When I was a teenager I went through a period of searching. I looked to science, other religions, philosophy, and spiritualism and just came to the conclusion that they lacked any real answers to the BIG questions.

Eventually I read the Bible. I was really struck by how honest it was. It contained the good news but it also contained the hard realities too. The Bible was not afraid to stand on the Truth and it opened my eyes to so many things. 

After many years of being satisfied with my own reading and my own ideas I was faced with a crisis. I won't spell out the details but I will tell you that it made me realize that the world embraces an ideology that is inherently self destructive, tries hard to sell that ideology especially targeting children, and if you oppose it you face an aggressive enemy.

Good and evil were not just a concept anymore but a real struggle with real consequences. I came to realize that I needed to pick sides. To throw what little weight I had into the right side of the battle. I felt one way I could accomplish this was to join a good church. To do my part to give life and vitality to it. It would also help bostler my son from the effects of a crooked world.

Finding the right church was a challenge. I tried many. Some I read about, some I visited, and some I did both. Most I visited were by mere luck of the draw. I started driving and said "Hey, theres one". 

I read about the Presbyterian(USA), checked out thier web sites, and read some blogs. They were being torn apart internally over conservative/liberal issues. Amazing how the enemy can strike at the very heart of a church. I decided I wanted a church who knew who it was and was firmly grounded in the scriptures. It may be the calling of some to wage war in a denomination to bring it back to God but I didn't feel that was my calling. I also looked into the Presbyterian Church in America. They are a completely separate denomination. They seemed to be a good church and I was interested in attending a service but I just didn't run across one. 

I looked into the Episcopal church. They are even more messed up than the PUSA but then there is the Episcopal mission to America. They are an African based branch of the Episcopal church. Interestingly they see we are so messed up (Including and especially the American Episcopal church) they are on a mission to spread the word here. I would have liked to try them but never came across one.

I visited an Assemblies of God. I thought they were a very good church and I enjoyed them but they just weren't for me. Not because they did anything wrong. It was really just a style thing. 

I went to a Baptist Church and I thought they were really nice and decent people and a great church but once again I didn't feel it was quite the right flavor for me. I guess it was the hellfire falling from heaven stuff. I loved them and would worship with them anytime but I just wanted to continue my search. 

I tried the Lutheran church and I really liked them. I almost ended my search there but I was still not quite satisfied yet. As silly as it sounds the one thing that put me off was the ornate robes. Not that I think there is anything really wrong with ornate robes I just didn't care for them and so on that flimsy reasoning alone I continued searching. Besides I was really getting educated about the different flavors of Christianity and was actually eager to continue. 

I went to an Eastern Orthodox Church but their service was not in English. I don't remember what language it was but clearly it was not for me.

I went to a Methodist church and sat through an hour long sermon that seemed to have no real meaning but in the end turned out to be nothing but a political speech about the Iraq war, no thanks. Funny, I was sitting behind the Republican Mayor of North Ridgeville. I had an email dialog with him afterwards and he asked me to please join. He felt the church needed people who would have the courage to remind the leadership that they are there to serve the congregation and not the other way around. I sympathize but again I didn't feel it was my war to wage.

I tried Catholic and I thought they were a good church and there was a lot I appreciated about them but again It just wasn't really me. 

I had a friend pique my interest in the United Church of Christ. The sermon was odd but the people were nice. When I did a little digging into the background of the denomination the things I discovered were shocking. I won't say any more about it (shiver).

I tried others as well but just didn't find the right one for a variety of reasons, some for very little reasons and some for very big reasons. 

Finally a friend, Russ, a great guy, a knowledgeable Christian, and a talented musician, invited me to his church. It was Trinity EFCA in Amherst. The Pastor there was a guy named Mark Wilke. He was a rare individual. Funny, I remember him introducing himself to me as Fred Zepplin at a fair in Elyria. After that I kept calling him Fred. He would always politely correct me. Apparently he didn't get the joke and probably thought I was a nut. 

Mark has an insight to spiritual things that is granted to only a few. I believe there was suffering in his life and through that suffering he was enlightened. I'm sure he would be the first to say take this cup from me but nevertheless he was a guy you could to listen too. Very nice and welcoming people too. I'll admit I was a newbie to Christian society so I didn't feel very comfortable with all the public praying and stuff and they probably thought I was an odd Christian but they never showed it. Unfortunately after only a short while Mark left Trinity and my enthusiasm for that church dwindled. Not that I didn't think it was a great church but it lost it's luster for me. 

After, I don't know maybe a year, I ended up stopping at Provience because it just happened to be in the direction I was driving that day. I enjoyed it very much. I felt the sermon was masterful and educational and interesting. I liked the attitude and feel of the church and it was another EFCA church. At this point I had stubbornly decided to continue checking out more churches because I was enjoying the education but the spirit that had previously driven me was gone. I liked Providence. I would start Sunday morning asking what direction should I go today and I would end up saying why don't I just go to Providence. 

The spirit is alive in that church.

I decided to volunteer to work in the sound booth. I believe working side by side with people is the best way to get to know them. After a while I was able to join the worship team. That has been tremendous. I have really been able to get to know some very cool and well grounded Christians and I can talk with them about faith and have made the kinds of friendships and fellowship a Christian needs.

I love my church.