Growing up in a traditionally Black Church in the South, Pentecostal, Holiness, and Baptist, I miss cultural aspects of my religious heritage that I've not found other places: dancing, shouting, and praising!
My children, born in the covenant and raised in the truths of inspired prophets through membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do not share the cultural connection to African American heritage that type of worship brings.
Even when I introduce them to the love-inspired dance and praise worship I cherished as a church-going kid, they wonder what it's all about when the Spirit comes to us without a need for all of the dancing and the shouting.
About A Feeling
It wasn't about the Spirit, if I'm honest, and I am. For me, it was about the cultural experience of group worship. It was about being in a sea of people that looked like me is what I miss.
It's about saying, "Good Morning," to the congregation and feeling the roar of the responding "Good Morning!"
That feels like home, to me.
I feel the Spirit at home. It is not the dancing or the shouting that brings the Spirit, but the welcome.
I know when I go to a predominantly African American Church, a Holiness Church more times than not, I am welcome. I am home, I am accepted, I am a part of, I am included, and I am family.
I've felt that way in the Atlanta Ward of the Atlanta Stake in Georgia, United States.
I've felt that while serving as a missionary for The Church in South Africa--simply because everyone tended to look similar to me, a seas of shades of brown skin and black hair.
I felt understood at Church there immediately without having to explain myself because we all had a common appearance and struggle, a shared struggle or wrestle with Western culture!
Now, I feel awkward purposefully gathering together trying to feel that acceptance. I did not have to "try" in Atlanta Ward or on my mission, or when I go to African American churches. It just happens. In most of my missionary service and at most of the Wards, congregations, members gathered to Church. Most, if not all of us were Black.
Purposefully gathering does create some of that feeling of belonging, but it can also feel forced--too much so at times. Satan is about force. God is about feeling.
Notice all of the feelings and felts mentioned above.
One method of bringing the influence of the Spirit is through sharing personal experiences, and another, through showing love and concern--feelings.
I relate all of this to share the following video.
Please, Saints, don't listen to what Sister Shirley Caesar says about the dead church and claim it as ours, which is the living Church in TRUTH!
The dead church is the one that doesn't allow its members to feel like they belong.