Observations on church in Cameroon

Because I'm preparing to run the PMUC semi-marathon next Saturday, my long
run this morning was only 10 miles. That meant that I was home in time to go
to church, which I must say I really enjoyed.

One thing I liked was being "part of the crowd." I go to one of 7 Sunda
services at All Saints Church Bayelle and this, the main English-language
service, is always full, which means there are probably close to 2,000
people there. Also, although the North West Province in general has a lot of
Protestants (particularly Presbyterians), I live in a Catholic neighborhood,
so going to the Catholic church makes me feel like I'm part of the local
scene. In addition, I have to say that the priests (and there are many of
them–at least five) at this parish are well-educated, their theology is
sound and they preach well. I like that they preach on the Gospel (something
the Protestant churches generally do not do). And, of course, there was
communion which I find very nurturing and appreciate even more now that I do
not have the chance to take it every week.

Today, the Gospel was from Luke 19 — the story of Zaccheus the tax
collector who climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus calls him down and tells
him that he's going home with him to dinner. The sermon took a different
perspective than I'd ever considered. It was predominantly an exhortation to
us to be like Jesus to, rather than judge and scorn and exclude "public
sinners," we should approach them and include them with love. I found it
very refreshing and quite powerful, particularly given this cultural context
(where scorning public sinners is quite "the thing to do" for good
Christians).

Another observation. I noticed today for the first time, that there are huge
number of adolescents that attend the service I attend. Easily a quarter to
a third of the congregation was teenagers. I really noticed this after I
took communion and sat down and noticed who was still in line. To me, as an
American, this was astonishing. I come from a culture where you see very few
teenagers in church, that being the time of their lives that they tend to
leave. And teens here are not very different from Americans, believe me.
They dress in ways that adults often consider inappropriate; they are
rebellious; they push boundaries; they cut school, etc. (I'm sure many of
them are good and hardworking and all that, just as are many American teens,
but you get my point.) And from what I observed, these teens were mostly
unaccompanied by parents (or at least they were not sitting with their
parents). I found that very interesting.

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About Seth Longacre

soul worker, itinerant discalced Episcopal Deacon, barefoot runner, photographer, spiritual director, yoga teacher, minimalist, pilgrim
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