Congregation Visits

Last week we presented to the class all of the different congregations within Redlands that we visited. It was really interesting to see all of the similarities and differences between congregations of the same faith, and how even when the same congregation from last time was presented, there was new information and observations about it. What most stood out to me was the abundance of elements besides belief that might lead someone to choose a particular congregation. For example, several locations have longer mass, while others, such as St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, where Robert and I visited, have shorter mass, lasting for a duration of about 25 minutes or so. For those who have busy lives and try to make religion fit into their daily routine, shorter masses before work or school allow them to better fulfill this goal. Another example of non belief related features of congregations were the communities within them. The presenters of the Latter Day Saints Church gave an example of this when they discussed how one man who always attends has “his spot” that everyone knows not to sit in. The UCC Congregation, which has most of the faculty from the U of R attend, is known for its open mind and inclusiveness, displayed through the rainbow flags and banners throughout the congregation, and the female Pastor Jill. Although almost all congregations were types of Christianity, they all exemplified very different morals and atmospheres of worship and community, which reinforced the idea to me that choosing a congregation is less about belief and more about what draws you to it, and therefore, the success of a congregation must have little to do with belief as well.