Church by the Creek

I’ve been in a whirlwind for the last 4 weeks and so I’ve been putting off typing an entry about Church by the Creek, my internship church. Technically it’s my “discernment parish” and is a required part of The Process before seminary. I will be part of their congregation for 6 months.

Some observations about Church by the Creek.

– Church by the Creek is small. It’s significantly smaller than Home Congregation.
– Their building is REALLY small. Small nave, small altar, small sacristy. Classroom and office space is almost non existent. Microphones are not needed to hear celebrant, lectors, etc.
– They are high church. I am used to broad church. I am constantly reminding myself that the thurifer goes first. I am not conditioned to wait for a person with incense before I do anything. It’s confusing. I am going to learn how to be the thurifer. I am most excited about doing the 360’s on the way up the aisle. That looks like fun.
– They have a pretty large number of kids/young people/young couples and families for a church of any size. I’m duly impressed.
– Working with a woman rector is different than working with a man. I haven’t exactly figured out why I think that yet, but I do know that it is a good thing to work with female clergy. I grew up with all men.
– Traditional albs with cinctures make short chubby people (aka ME) look like stuffed sausage. I’ve ordered a contemporary one from Almy that doesn’t require a cincture. It should be here in time for Advent. God bless the customer service rep who told me that my alb was a custom order because I’m so small. I think she meant short, but we’ll go with small for now. 🙂
– I once set up the sanctuary at 11:30 PM… and managed not to break anything. Glass flagons are not for klutzy people like me. I prefer silver or something similarly durable.
– There is no such thing as a gradual transition from lay person to clergy person. I don’t know how I thought things were going to go, but right from the start their clergy wanted me in black cassock all morning on Sundays. This is what they wear (without the white tab in the collar of course) Still trying to get a handle on what all of this means, but I know for sure that the congregation looks at me as one of the clergy team. I feel like I’m playing dress up.

If one was to make a tourist brochure about Church by the Creek, it would say something like “Best Kept Secret in All of Northeastern Diocese! Warm! Friendly! Homelike atmosphere!”

For whatever reason I imagined that a small rural congregation would be a sort of lonely, desolate place, an empty hull that was a shadow of a once thriving congregation. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is without a doubt one of the warmest, most energetic, and most dedicated group of parishioners I’ve ever encountered. These folks are serious about this Christianity thing. They give away any extra money they raise. Their small building is constantly overwhelmed with boxes of items being collected for hurricane victims who have moved here, or a town on the gulf coast, or local homeless people, or the humane society, etc., etc. They genuinely include children and yes, even animals in their congregation. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen someone kneel at the communion rail with an infant in one arm and a puppy rescued from a hurricane in the other.

CBTC has welcomed me with open arms and endless patience. This internship thing is still a challenge though. I am exhausted after every weekend I spend with them. The experience is providing me with more questions than answers about just about everything.

In the coming weeks and months I will be assigned a specific ministry as my project for the time I am with them. It will most likely be something I haven’t tried before. I’m looking forward (nervously) to it and to getting to know people on a deeper level. Right now I am trying so hard to learn names, adapt to their routine, and be friendly that I am wondering when I will ever have a chance to minister to anyone there in some tangible way.

Perhaps the most difficult part of all of this is the fact that I am working 40 hours a week, taking a class, and doing this internship all at the same time. I am working to change the schedule so I can have some time for myself, but this has not been finalized yet. Also, Computer Guy and I have always done ministry as a team, and this is the beginning of getting used to doing things without him. He is very busy picking up the slack for me in youth ministry and a zillion other things over at Home Congregation while trying to support me and my crazy schedule at CBTC. My house is a disaster, there are a bunch of projects (painting inside and out, installing new flooring, cleaning up the yard for the winter, organizing our lives) that we need to do but can’t seem to find the time to do. I have papers to write but no idea when that will happen. I am still not on the exercise bandwagon. The Mutt needs to be walked more. I have phone calls and sleep and mail to catch up on. I would like to actually cook something that takes more than 5 minutes at some point. I want to find time to make apple crisp. Oh, and all the cool RevGals seem to be knitting. I have no idea how and I am not very crafty, but if I could find time I’d like to learn. Someday.

Seriously though, despite all that whining, I am thrilled to be at CBTC and I am blessed to be doing this part of The Process there.


~ by Sophia on October 26, 2005.

5 Responses to “Church by the Creek”

  1. Life in a small church can be so beautiful, and it will (probably already has) change your view of what “Church” means whether or not you ever serve a small church yourself. Somewhere in your congregation is a lady who would love to teach you to knit, I feel sure.Blessings to you and to them.

  2. I’m with Songbird…there’s someone who will teach you to knit, and even if you just start with scarves, you’ll find it the most soothing thing! Of course, yarn shops become a new addiction, but that’s another problem. I’ve got three projects pending sitting in my basket right now, and heaven only knows if PH’s sweater will be done by Christmas (probably not at the rate i’m going right now).I envy you the nature of your Process – in our diocese, we don’t do internships prior to getting to seminary, and I think that’s a shame. One comment the shrink had when PH and I went for our marital evaluation was that we needed to experience different varieties of Episcopal churches. We’ve been doing that informally (went to smells-and-bells tres high-church Trinity Wall Street in NYC last Sunday) but it’s not the same as working in another church for a period of time.Enjoy this rich experience…it sounds awesome!

  3. One of the best things the pastor in my internship said to me was that wearing the clerical garb was important so that I could “learn how to be myself as a pastor.” I too played dress up for about six months, but it sunk in eventually. Even wearing the clothes takes practice. Enjoy the journey!

  4. OH I loved this postI could see youand I was so excited for youI’m sure that the lack of own time is NOT a good thing and hope that there’s a bit of slackOur tradition doesn’t have clerical clothing and I sometimes wish it did – I love the idea of dress up 🙂be so blessed and write again when you can! It’s SO interesting to read your story

  5. Oh, I highly recommend knitting, and not just because all the cool kids are doing it. It can save your sanity.It is important to see if the clothes fit but it does take some getting used to. And I have one of those contemporary, no-cincture albs from Almy, too. I love it–takes no minutes to get vested and solves the whole short-waisted, short, ate too much chocolate problem.

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