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Please tell me about the visitor policy at your place of worship.

 
 
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 06:40 pm
Are people welcome off the street?
What should they know before wandering in?
Is it dress up or casual?
How long does the service last?
Are visitors expected to participate in any ritual?
Should they sit in the back, quietly, without participating?
What should one expect?
Should we call in advance?


I used to investigate a lot of different places but as a guest of a member, not as a visitor off the street. I had guidance. It was a long time ago. I need a refresher course.

I would like to visit a variety of places along with my 11 year old son. I want to make sure we do it respectfully.
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Type: Question • Score: 15 • Views: 2,722 • Replies: 39
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 06:47 pm
@boomerang,
I went through a period of doing a lot of visiting, it varies a lot!

We have a good friend who is a Lutheran minister, in her church you definitely could just plain show up, in whatever you happen to be wearing, and she'd be thrilled to see you.

I've gone a few times, she doesn't expect any participation, you can but you don't need to.

At my Grandma-in-law's (I guess, after 20 years I consider her my own grandma) Catholic Church, they would definitely find it disrespectful if you just showed up in any old thing -- you should dress up a bit, and you should probably wait in the back and observe at first. Someone would probably approach you and take you under their wing if you are nicely dressed and quiet/ respectful.

I haven't participated, and that's been fine.

I went to one church (Baptist, I think) that definitely would frown on anyone just stopping by. I was brought by someone and that was a bit of an issue, she was beloved so they let it slide.

Probably calling ahead, while not necessary at all places, could smooth the way if you're not sure.

What kind of places are you thinking of going?
Ticomaya
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 06:53 pm
@boomerang,
Everyone is welcome as they are. Dress in AZ is usually almost always casual. 1 hour. Visitors can participate, or not, as they wish, including communion (everyone is welcome at God's table). They can sit wherever they want. No need to call in advance. Lutheran.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 06:56 pm
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:

I went through a period of doing a lot of visiting, it varies a lot!


that's my experience as well

I also recommend calling in advance, or finding friends who are members of different temples/synagogues/congregations

In Grade 9 or 10, we had a World Religions option in social science. Representatives of different faiths came to our classes after we'd taken some initial classes. There was an option to go to each place of worship on your own time. I didn't participate in that portion but I was told that everyone was really welcomed, and that people were assigned to explain things to the students who did go.



My personal experience in the Catholic church was much like Sozobe's with the Lutheran church - my experience with the Baptists was very similar to hers - least welcoming of all the temples etc I've visited. I generally find synagogues to be the most welcoming.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 07:05 pm
I've been in catholic churches as a believer and as not a believer.

Just walk in and grab a seat, or, if the church doesn't have seats, mingle.

Don't make a bunch of noise.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 07:08 pm
@boomerang,
mrs. hamburger was insistent that money was put in the little envelope at every place of worship - whether we went in as tourists or to participate in some event (wedding/funeral/christening etc) - she felt it was a sign of respect

I still do it, pretty much out of habit.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 07:34 pm
@Ticomaya,
Ticomaya wrote:

Everyone is welcome as they are. Dress in AZ is usually almost always casual. 1 hour. Visitors can participate, or not, as they wish, including communion (everyone is welcome at God's table). They can sit wherever they want. No need to call in advance. Lutheran.

Also Lutheran, same rules. We have a more casual early service and a more traditional 11:00 service. Visitors are welcome at either.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  0  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 07:44 pm
I confess to having had a bad bump into the Lutherans. It put me off and I've never been back -- that was 40 something years ago though and with hindsight I think it was a misunderstanding more than anything else. (I think they must have thought that we were Lutherans that had moved to a new city or something.) It might be time to give them a second chance.... see what's up there.... (Thanks Tico, that sounds up my alley.)

At one point my dad was a serious Lutheran. Things happened. He still loved the Lutherans but he "worried". That was before I was born.

I've always kind of liked the Catholics and went there often. I went with my friend G, who had a very Catholic family. We would show up shabby and they loved us anyway.

My experience with the Baptists have been very different from the other posters here. I LOVED the Baptists and probably went there more than any other church (maybe tied with the Presbyterians). At one point I even sang with the Baptist choir. I loved that.

This probably sounds really awful in 2012 but I fell in love with the Baptists back in the 1960s when I used to go there with my dad's boss's black maid/nanny. They embraced this small, white girl and I loved it. Really it was one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. If I could feel like that again I'd probably believe. (I hope this doesn't offend anyone.)

I have been to a lot of places of worship. I've studied religion. (My favorite teacher ever? An ex-Army Chaplin who taught religion -- ALL religions. I never knew what her religion was.)

I'd like to go Sufi dancing again. I liked that a lot too.

Anyway....

What started all of this is that Mo wants to go to a Synagogue to see what that's all about. I talked to my friend about it and she was kind of stumped because they don't really have religious "tourists". (She doesn't go to Temple but to a small private service at her Rabbi's house -- she's going to talk to them about taking me and Mo.)

I'm rambling because I'm cooking and sneaking in to post. I hope this all makes sense.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 07:58 pm
@boomerang,
you've got quite a few synagogues to choose from locally

maybe check out a reform one - though I think the singing is usually better at conservative synagogues
boomerang
 
  0  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 08:18 pm
@ehBeth,
Do you think we should go to the service at the Temple or should we go for the small service at the Rabbi's house?
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 08:42 pm
@boomerang,
If Mo is interested in the synagogue experience, I'd say temple.

It's a little easier to blend in there than in someone's home.

I'd also wonder a bit about a group meeting in a rabbi's home instead of one of the many local synagogues - are they a break-off group - might give him an odd impression.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 08:43 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

What started all of this is that Mo wants to go to a Synagogue to see what that's all about.


I'd give him the synagogue experience to start with.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  0  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 09:17 pm
@ehBeth,
No, I don't think it's a splinter group..... I think it's a courtesy to her and her kids that they meet at the Rabbi's home.

I hope I don't get the terminology wrong....

She's from a very.... prominent... family. I've met her Rabbi a few times and I think he would be .... orthodox....? (Wears the shawls and the payot, can't touch women....)

She married outside of her faith and it cause a bit of a ... rift.... but she is still... devout.....

I think her .... position... affords her certain .... privileges.... and that's why she has a private service with her Rabbi.

What might be the equivalent of excommunication within the Jewish faith?

By the way... I didn't ask her to take us to any kind of service. I just asked her advice on where to go and how it would be best to go about being a visitor there. She was intrigued by the question and offered to escort us.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 09:54 pm
@boomerang,
Yes, people are welcome off the street.
No special knowledge needed beforehand.
A little dressy at the traditional service, anything goes at the contemporary service.
An hour and 15 minutes.
You're not expected to participate in anything unless you want to. It is expected that everyone will be quiet during prayers, though.
Sit anywhere you like.
Call in advance if you need to know times of services or suggestions for parking. (My church is downtown...parking can be tricky.)
Music is choir, organ and hymns at traditional service. Contemporary service has a worship band with song leaders, and they perform contemporary Christian songs and hymns with contemporary arrangements. Singing is encouraged at both services...some participate, some don't. Don't worry about your voice, you're part of the crowd.
Traditional service is more "high church"...candles, robes, processions, scripted readings, etc. Contemporary service is much more informal. The same minister preaches the same sermon at both services, but wears a regular coat and tie at the contemporary service.
(Presbyterian)
boomerang
 
  0  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 10:23 pm
@Eva,
Oh! I bet I know the exact church you're speaking of! If so, I went there for several years -- I even taught at their vacation Bible school at the camp (east?) of the city. My friends dad was an associate (?) pastor there.

That was a great, welcoming, church. If we're talking about the same one, it sounds like it still is.

Do they still have that camp?
Eva
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Jun, 2012 11:14 pm
@boomerang,
Yes they do! It was one of the reasons we started going there when SonofEva was small. Great, great place. (Tulsa has grown out to meet it now.) It probably has even better facilities now than you remember. Olympic sized pool, rock climbing walls, etc.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Jul, 2012 12:22 am
I occasionally hang out at a Unitarian Universalist Ch. . . I mean, Society. Checked their website, it said to just walk in, so I did. No problem. No dressing up. Sit where you want. Participation optional---they didn't have any insider-only rituals anyway. Unitarian Universalists don't care what you believe, if anything, as long as you try to live a decent life and do decent things for other prople.
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Jul, 2012 01:22 am
@boomerang,
Bear in mind that at conservative temples (also orthodox), the men sit on one side and the women on the other. I don't know what's expected of someone Mo's age.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jul, 2012 01:32 am
A couple of weeks ago, i was out with the little dogs, and as we so often do, we walked around the neighborhood until we arrived at the Baptist church not far from the house. They got a new minister a few years back, and he is a really nice guy. I sat on the steps of the side entrance, where the door was propped open, and the little dogs wandered around in the shrubberies. This minister has gone to a lot of trouble to make the grounds look really nice. I could here the voices of women inside, and because the doors of the front entrance were propped open as well, i got the impression that "spring cleaning" was under way.

The precher came out, said hello and looked around, and i pointed out to him that he needed to move his sprinkler, as it was making quite a puddle in one of the flower beds. He commented that he wouldn't want the little dogs to track mud into the church, as he was moving the sprinkler. I told him that the little dogs had wanted to go inside, but that i wouldn't let them. He seemed genuinely surprised, and said "Everyone is welcome here, everyone." He was obviously being very serious. Jokingly, i said that the little dogs are pagans. He asked me what i meant, so i said they worship their bellies. Once again, very serisously, he said that everyone is welcom in his church. We then got into a discussion of pagans and tolerance.

I suspect that the answer to your questions lies with the minister or priest of whatever chruch is concerned. He or she would be the authority figure, and set the tone, even if the congregation were of a different attitude at first. I have no coubt that, for example, this minister is completely sincere in saying that everyone is welcome in his church. Another minister, and that might not be so.
farmerman
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Jul, 2012 02:56 am
@Setanta,
shoulda just told him that the dogs were Catholic, that woulda shut him off.
0 Replies
 
 

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