We picked a new church this week: the Salvation Army Church. And we added a little twist: Miss Dee's younger brother, Mini Me (aged 2). Not only that, but it was the induction of their new leaders (more on that later), which made for a much longer than usual service.
Why that church? I had heard good things about it through Vyckie from NLQ (she attends the Salvos, mostly for her kids. She is no longer a Christian). Not only that, but my Mum had attended Sunbeams as a child and was very positive about the experience.
My first impressions that it was a considerably larger church: and church that had clearly been around a long time. Throughout the service, parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents were referred to as having been part of the Salvos.
Additionally, women were given an equal role throughout the service. The new leaders (a married couple) were inducted as an equal couple, with equal roles and responsibilities.
As for the sermon, whilst being over-long (and more drawn out then anything else), it didn't discriminate harshly, nor make me feel like I wanted to leave the whole time. What a refreshing change from Oasis!! I will say however, it was fairly boring or slow in parts :-).
The music was really something special. The kids loved the brass band component, and I loved the fact they chose songs I actually knew!
And even though, there was a focus on charity work, there wasn't a huge pressure to donate or tithe. Phew.
Unlike Oasis, I didn't look around and feel uncomfortable about the behaviour of the families around me. I felt like I was normal, with normal children with normal attention spans. And best of all, I felt felt like I wasn't being a major disturbance when I got up in the middle of the service to change Mini Me's nappy and take Miss Dee to the toilet.
When I went to the "mother's room" I found it comfortably set up, with a TV to watch the service, plenty of toys, comfy chairs and change table. As well, there was a huge supply of nappies :-O. Big WOW!!! I loved it, but did return to the main hall as both kids were being really good, and didn't see the point of pulling them out of the service, just so I could sit in comfort :-P.
After the service, we weren't greeted as enthusiastically as at Oasis: but I didn't mind that. I prefer anonymity, to over-curious onlookers. It was nice to be greeted for whom we are (visitors), not as what we could be (regular church going members).
We were introduced to one of the leaders of both their Sunday School and Sunbeams/Moonbeams. The Sunbeams leader was particularly friendly and lovely, but she really didn't comprehend how shy Miss Dee can get. Their Sunday School program certainly sounds great and interesting for Miss Dee.
Both kids seemed to really enjoy themselves for most of it, and were on the whole, well behaved. Mini Me did get a bit over-excited in parts (and got a bit loud), but he was quickly distracted by a book, or drawing. Miss Dee was her usual self, albeit a tad distracted by her brother in parts. Justin and I were both very proud of them. They were fabulous considering the length of service ;-).
To sum up:
Very focused on gender equality, good Sunday School program, supportive environment of parents/caregivers. Brilliant music. Miss Dee loved it; even more than Oasis. A good, positive environment all round.
Admittedly, the sermon was a very long, drawn out, boring affair. The friendly factor was definitely lower.
Would We Return?
Yes. absolutely. We are planning on revisiting this Sunday to see how Sunday School/ a 'normal' service go.