Service Takes People 400 Years Back in Time

Post a Comment » Written on December 1st, 2005     
Filed under: News
ALLEGAN, MI (December 1, 2005)  – The local Evangelical Covenant Church  congregation held a Thanksgiving service this past Sunday that took the  church back 400 hundred years in time.

In those times, men sat on the right side of the sanctuary and women sat  on the left. If the men fell asleep during the service, they were hit on  the side of the head with a hard knob attached to the end of a long  pole. Drowsy women received far gentler treatment, being tickled with a  feather on a pole.
Every year since 1994, Christ Community Church has been holding a  traditional Thanksgiving service in the way that pilgrims would have  worshiped each Sunday. “It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a living  history lesson,” says pastor G. Patrick White. The history lesson is  abbreviated, however, as the original service lasted several hours. A  half-hour pastoral prayer began the service – and the people raised  their hands the entire time, White says.
When it came time for the sermon, many might have needed the  encouragement of the tithingmen – the bearers of the poles – to stay  awake. While some may feel like sermons today last three hours, the  pastor during the 1700s was required to preach at least that long. To  ensure the pastor preached the requisite amount of time, an hourglass  was turned by a beadle, the official pastoral assistant. The device was  to be turned three times before the sermon was completed.
For Sunday’s service, a half-hour glass was used, says White. “One turn  would have been more than enough,” he quips. The tithingmen did have fun  making sure people stayed awake, “but we’ve cautioned them that that the  knob is pretty hard.”
Following the service, the men were allowed to stand and ask questions.  White says he knows some of the men had been waiting all year for this  moment to put him on the spot.
Also on hand were the censures – pairs of church officers who, during  the service, called attention to the failures of congregation members.  On Sunday, they made sure to let the rest of the congregation know when  one of their own was not living up to Christian standards. One couple  was called out for “showing undue public affection in worship,” says  White. “They were in fun, but there were some zingers.”
The piano and organ were silent, especially the organ, because before  1747, the instrument was known as “the devil’s bagpipes.” White laughs  at the suggestion that some people still consider it such.
One part of the service especially pleased White. “I’m bald as a cue  ball – and I get to wear a wig,” he says.
The church is located on 20 acres at the edge of town. Prior to the  service, kids are put on a horse-pulled wagon and led to church with the  town crier walking in front. The route is about a half-mile long and  stops are set up along the way. At each stop, people fall in behind the  wagon so that everyone walks to church together.
To learn more about this fun-loving church and its ministries, visit Christ Community.
Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.
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