This past Sunday we attended church at Central United Methodist in Malanje, Angola. It is located on the grounds of the conference office and was an impressive site. Services lasted 2 1/2 hours with lots of singing and, quite frankly, announcements. We were asked to introduce ourselves by the local Bishop and all in all I can say hospitality is alive and well here.
The most striking thing about the service though was the noise. It is summer in Angola so the windows are all open and the apartment building to the west was in full swing. Children attending Sunday school were singing and the chickens that live on the property were adding their own voices as well. Children came and went. At one point the son of the person sitting next to me, like knee touching next to me, came up and sat on his father’s lap, who in turn promptly gave him a juice box. It was just honestly I nice moment.
Noise from the street and children about did not distract from the experience but add to it! And don’t understand that the Angolan church is somehow riding the wave of newer casual worship. Though it was summer most men were dressed better than I do on your average Sunday. Which, admittedly, is a low bar. One lady also had the job of waking those that dared catch a couple winks during the service, or even slouch a bit too much.
No, respect is an ever present thing. Respect for the person speaking, respect for the pastor, respect for the choir. The difference is that the noise is simply not considered disrespectful. Kids will play and run around. People will listen to music loudly. Life goes on outside even while we are inside worshiping. This has this marvelous effect of bridging the worship experience with real life on a basic, almost primitive, level.
Needless to say I loved it and I cannot not wait to be out in the rural church this Sunday. Thank you to all that made this trip possible!