Friday, April 22, 2005

My place is of the sun...

By grace my sight grows stronger
And I will not be a pawn
for the prince of darkness any longer
---Indigo Girls, "Prince of Darkness"

Christian Assembly of God was (and still is) pastored by Louis F. Kayatin. The church was your basic exuberant Pentecostal church, although I wasn't aware of that at the time, not having been exposed to much of anything outside of my Catholic upbringing. To me it was "alive." And the Catholic church was dead. That's all the impetus I needed to switch my allegiance. My parents didn't approve, but they let me do it; after all, I was 18. They very well could have played the "you're living in my house and will do what I say" card, but they didn't.

I have fond memories of that church; I still visit on occasion, when I want a taste from someone else's plate. I started attending the young adult group which met for Bible study and prayer once a week. The names still resonate in my consciousness- Brian Del Turco, Len McDermott, Micci Wicks, Gavin Wilder, Ed Miller, and others. They became my friends and my Christian brothers in a very real way. The exuberance, the Bible preaching, the fellowship, all of these things made an impact on my forming Christian mind.

I attended from 1985-1986 regularly and enjoyed it. Was there anything I didn't like? Well, pentecostal churches introduced me to the "God told me" syndrome, where if God told someone something there is no question. And those who know me know that I like to ask questions :) It's been almost 20 years so it's hard to pinpoint what may have bothered me. Life rolled on, people got married and moved away, eventually it just wasn't the same.

In 1985 I met a brother who said he attended "the Church In Cleveland." Church simply named after the city in which it resides. No denominationalism. That sounded cool,and again, exuberance was the key. I went to some of their meetings. They were as fired up as any pentecostal, and they talked about the Bible more. I dug it, so in my developing quest to "be biblical", I started attending their meetings. What did I like? The emphasis on the Bible, the friendliness of the people, the fellowship. They had regular conferences just on certain books of the Bible. What didn't I like? Most of the people acted like zombies. That sounds mean but they devoted themselves to the teachings of a guy named Witness Lee. They would memorize whole portions of his books and spit them out to each other. If I had an issue in my life, they had a passage from a book to share. Instead of being willing to invest their lives in a person that was hurting, they used Witness Lee's writings as a shield. That bugged me. No questioning Witness Lee. That REALLY bugged me :)

I was attending the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship meetings at the community college where I was taking classes. Little did I know that IVCF was having legal issues with the Local Church (as the Witness Lee movement was being referred to). I was being pulled in my affections on both sides, the leader of the IV group on one side, my friend Olvin on the other. I was getting a taste of how Christians could act when "doctrinal purity" was on the line, and boy, did I not like it. If only that had been the last time I would see ugly attitudes arise.

Somebody is going to read this who attends a church associated with the "Lord's Recovery", as they put it, and they will probably be offended by what I just wrote. Let me make myself clear. I think Witness Lee is a fantastic Bible teacher. I still enjoy his writings, even though I don't currently attend the church in Elyria. I don't, however, consider him to be "the unique apostle of the present age." I don't ascribe that role to anyone.

Somewhere in this time I attended a few meetings of North Coast Church (now Worldview Community). And I have to think that they finally changed their name so no one would confuse them with Church on the North Coast :) Decent place, Ken Roberts was a good preacher. I didn't attend enough meetings to form a good opinion.

By 1987 I just floated around. I became disenchanted with the church in Cleveland, so I went back to Church on the North Coast as my main church for a time. But in the fall of 1987 I began attending Bowling Green State University. I'll pick that story up next time :)


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