Archive for the ‘Pentecostal church’ Tag

Hand Up For A Better Life

churchFor some unknown reason I started to attend Pentecostal Church services at a local old folks home. I think I was eight or nine at the time. The joyousness of the Sunday morning services really hit home, as did the captivating words of the reverend. I remember a sense of warmth and friendship was so strong, when the congregation was asked if anyone wanted to fully embrace Christ my hand shot up almost involuntarily.

The few of us who had responded to the invitation were blessed and praised by everyone present. The joy in that room was overwhelming and I left filled with so much enthusiasm it took some time before I calmed down sufficient to tell my mother of the events of the morning. Although she had been brought up in the catholic faith she had become greatly disillusioned by the actions of the church when she was young and the way it dominated her family’s life.

Her reaction to my embracing the Christian faith in such an open way was quite pragmatic. She took the view that we should all decide for ourselves whether we believe in a god and which faith we think is the one, if any, we wish to follow. Clearly she knew as an eight year old I was too young to full understand the consequences of my actions that Sunday morning. Today I may not be wholly convinced there is a single unifying power, but I strongly believe in the creed of peace and tolerance to all.

When Beliefs Collide

The architecture of St James’s Church in Antwerp is an illustration of how some religions have distanced themselves from their followers. Originally a classic baroque church, St James’s has been embellished with Gothic chapels many of significant opulence. This lavish investment is a contrast to the frugality of most eastern religions and one reason why followers are turning away from a creed that puts more value on the material than humanity.

Church officials have a vested interest in maintaining their life styles while bemoaning the lack of support and lack morals of society. Bishops live in lush palaces with every need cater for by a host of servants and staff. The Church of England clergy have a job for life and cannot be sacked. The church invested millions in hedge funds and short selling (before the practice was banned by the Financial Services Authority) while criticising the finance industry for its lack of morals.

Contrast this to the eastern religions where the officials rely solely on their followers for succour and place the emphasis on human life and theology not ornate embellishments. It’s not surprising these belief systems are well supported and are growing in size. Among the Christian sects the Pentecostal churches and Charismatic Movement are seeing the highest growth rates. These sects put a greater emphasis on worship and a personal connection with God. Religion is seen as an experience not just a belief system managed by a hierarchy that is becoming increasingly out of touch with its followers.