The Difficultly Of Seeking a ‘Normal’ Methodist Or Non-Denominational Service
Easter Sunday is approaching and my mother wants me to go to church.
Actually, my mother – who is back in Tennessee – wants me to go to church regardless of whether it’s Easter Sunday or not, but there’s a problem with doing that here.
I simply can’t find a good church in the South Bay.
Or, even, just a “normal” church.
I’m a Methodist, which a staunch Catholic friend of mine calls “Catholic Light.” Personally, I like to think of us Methodists as belonging to the “harmless religion.” We believe, primarily, in three things: God, peace on Earth and getting out before noon.
While Methodist churches are all over the South, I’ve only found one in the South Bay. It’s on the way up to Palos Verdes just past Riviera Village in Redondo Beach. When I went, I was the youngest person there, and by a long shot. I seriously thought I walked into a senior citizen’s home by accident.
There were certainly no girls there and while I don’t want to use church as a pickup place, it would be nice to meet someone at church.
The first church I went to in the South Bay was Hope Chapel. Actually, I didn’t so much as go to it as run into it; I was running down The Strand one day and stopped at a gathering of people. It was a group from Hope Chapel and the “pastor” was a surfer-looking dude of about 25 who kept saying “awesome” the whole time.
“Look at those waves God created. It’s just awesome.”
“Look at that beach God created. It’s just awesome.”
My next trial came when I received a flyer in the mail for Easter Sunday. It was for a church on 10th Street in Hermosa, just across from the McDonald’s on PCH.
At first everything seemed okay. People were exceptionally friendly and welcomed me in as if I was a regular member. But then things turned odd. The preacher was a guy of about 30 years old and talked about his “dark days” stemming from an obvious lack of control when it came to alcohol and made some vague “er, stay away from this guy” references as to how he acted when he consumed alcohol.
His wife told a similar story but what struck me about her was how she was dressed. She looked as if she had just come from the Walk Of Shame on Saturday night and went straight into the church. There was also a lot of singing. Too much singing. Then people in the congregation would hold each others hands and sway back and forth as if at a revival. Oh geez, I thought, I’m in room full of holy rollers!
I then went to another church a friend recommended; she had been going there for several Sundays and really liked it.
This service was even more offbeat than the holy rollers – people would shout while singing and swaying and the preacher stood up in front of the congregation and said, in that loud-booming voice of one of those TV evangelists, “WHO WANTS TO BE SAVED!?”
From the congregation, someone would yell out “I WANT TO BE SAVED!” Then another hand would go up followed by another shout of “I WANT TO BE SAVED!”
I could not get out of there fast enough. I don’t want to be saved, I just want to go to church!
Yes, I could go to American Martyrs, of course. This is where all the rich people go in Manhattan Beach. The problem, tho, is that the Catholics don’t know when to end the darned thing – those services (especially on Easter Sunday) can last quite a while. (That’s the Methodist, or “Catholic Light,” in me.)
There is one really cool thing about American Martyrs. Teenage surfer “dudes” show up with wet hair wearing board shorts and flip flops. If you want to see the true Southern California stereotype on display, then go to a service at American Martyrs.
And, quite frankly, everyone there is really nice. When going through the post-service reception line once, I confessed to the preacher that I’m not really Catholic, but a Methodist. He just laughed.
If anyone knows of a good, normal, Methodist or non-denominational church in the South Bay, please leave a comment here on this post.
My mother thanks you.