On first look, its pretty daunting. Parking was a pain in the butt and the building looks a lot like the Catholic church my grandmother took me to when I was a kid.
But then I got inside. People were nice, they said hello to me and they weren’t even the “greeters” you see posted outside the entrance of every church on a Sunday morning. These were just people who were nice and friendly. Wow.
There were several openly gay couples that I could identify. The pastor is a woman. The thing I found most surprising were the amount of older people. Most of the older people I know are extremely against homosexuality and would probably feel extremely uncomfortable in a church like FCC Riverside. But they seemed perfectly at ease with everyone there.
It’s a smaller congregation than what I’ve been exposed to before, but not so small that it has that “small church feel” to it. The pastor greeted everyone after service and spoke with some people at length, asking how their families were and mentioning several family members by name. It was obvious she cared about her congregants and was actively involved in making sure they felt at home there. Most everyone wore name tags, but I didn’t see the table when I came in so I didn’t have one. The pastor was very gracious about it and even showed me where it was so I could get one next time I came.
I honestly felt more at home there than I have anywhere else. The people were friendly and obviously very accepting of different lifestyles. The service only lasted an hour and the sermon wasn’t very long at all, which I like. Most pastors can be very long-winded, and it honestly surprised me that the pastor was able to get her message across in such a small amount of time. One thing that shocked me though were the amount of people who didn’t have a bible with them. I only saw one other person besides myself with an open bible during the service, but then again, they had the text printed right in the bulletin, so I guess most people feel like they don’t have to bring a bible. I’m still going to bring mine though, I prefer to read from it and mark in my bible instead of holding onto a bunch of bulletin’s.
In the bulletin, there was an announcement about an inquirer’s class coming up next week with a name, email address, and phone number listed to sign up for the class. I immediately went home and attempted to email the person listed, but the email address didn’t work for some reason. I figured they probably wouldn’t answer the phone on a Sunday, so I called on Monday instead. I was leaving a message when the person answered the phone on Monday. She was very nice, answering all my questions and taking her time to explain everything to me. She took my information after I decided to sign up for the class and said she looked forward to meeting me this Sunday.
Overall, I had a great experience. I honestly felt more at home there than I have anywhere else in a very long time. I’ll definitely be going back, and probably getting there a little early.