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In regards to the diversity of religious groups across the world in both the mainstream religious groups and substreams divisions, my focus will be based on a Christian church, which is based on Protestants foundation. Southport Christian Church is located in the southern part of Indianapolis. Before I went there, a friend had directed me to Southport Christian Church (SCC), which is their brand name when they branched from Olive Branch Christian Church in the 1950’s. The church held its first unified worship service as SCC in 1958, January 5th at Burkhart School (Southport Christian Center, 2018). I shared the search of a religious center for discussion with a friend and he directed me to SCC which as an American Native has a good foundation and is known for its strong religion philosophy and practices. The church target group is not limited to a separate group, it is inclusive and designed spiritual groups programs accommodate every gender, race, and age (Church Detail, 2018).
The church is located in Johnson County, in Epler Avenue Indianapolis and it is located in Greenwood town which borders Indianapolis city on the southward side. However, the demographic compilation of the neighbourhood has White race dominance, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Latinos are present within the neighbourhood. The town is compiled of median income per household according to the 2016 census. The church address is Southport Christian Church 201 E Epler Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46227. On 2016 the church voted to move to the south side of Indiana in Johnson County and to change the name from SCC to Tapestry Church and the facility boast of 68 years of existence in the spiritual growth of its members. while Interviewing a male believer who joined the church in 1998, I discovered the church is well known in the neighbourhood for its increased concern of its members and also plays a major role in uniting the different races situated in the region through its programs. The church branched from Olive Branch Christian Church located on Raymond streets of Indianapolis back in the year 1950, due that the place where they worshipped was crowded and hence the SCC founders created a branch in the Southport region so as to accommodate the southerners’ believers in a convenient place (Church Detail, 2018)
Upon the visit on a weekday 6/8/2018, I met an evangelist who narrated the partial history that he knew about the church and gave me a pamphlet which outlined the progress of the church. On the issues of affiliation, the evangelist quoted “The church is established on the fundamental believes that each human is a disciple of Christ, and all the church do is to nourish the spiritual guidance and forms a center of reconciliation for the believers.” The church participates in Reconciliation Ministry which is an anti-racial program for Christian Churches that advocates the disciples to practice a faithful religion. This seeks to eliminate racism and seek to reconcile the injustice so as to respect every human dignity.
During my visit on Sunday, August 5th, 2018, the service was held at 10 am and the church was filled to the capacity it could withstand. The most number of the members were whites, some had attributes of Native Americans, the second large group was the Hispanic and thirdly the African-American members formed the congregation pact. Observing the coordination of the members, during the announcements, physical appearance and the parking lot as well, the majority were middle-income earners and some high-class individuals. During the interview with Shannon the Evangelist, who is in charge of children and youth, she generalized the population as professionals who worked in Greenwood town and Indianapolis City. I further observed the gender balance in the church; however, the females looked many in comparison, and youths forming the largest number of the males group.
The architecture of New Wine church tends to be characterized by the large scale of the building following one of the several branching traditions of function, form, and style derived from the Early Christian. The church has no altar or pews but has a choir and band. It used chanting and drums with frequent references to Jesus. The building itself is very large capable of holding a capacity of 3000 people in every session. It is arranged in an orderly manner that facilities the sense of the divine. Talking about the inside and outside sacred spaces, the inside space was more important in the understanding of spirituality because the believers tend to learn more inside than outside, but both were important.
The church’s purpose is to worship God in Spirit and in Truth thus enjoying His presence every time they meet. This is accomplished through loving and serving people just as they are for the aim of becoming whole. Their mission to glorify God and advance His kingdom through equipping believers to do the work of the ministry through empowering of the Holy Spirit as well as utilizing His gifts in their lives.
The church has a leader Pastor Carolyn Nichols who is the senior pastor and the overall personnel guiding the whole church through leadership and teachings. He is followed by the executive Pastor serving as the spiritual mentor. An administrative pastor is the third in the hierarchy who is in charge of diversity as well as creating suitable technology to enhance the spreading of the gospel. People including the pastor dressed casually making a good start to every person despite their wish to dress. The church seemed different from other Christian groups in the manner of how their service is conducted. They have the simplicity of doing their service as the main function was mainly preaching the gospel to people.
The goal of the church is teaching the Bible in as practical ways as possible. This helps church members to better understand the purpose of the religion spiritually. The church believes that there exists only one true Church universally composing of all people who are regenerated and forgiven by Jesus Christ. This is reflected by a diversity of believers serving and working together as well as using their gifts in building one another up and forming the parts of Christ’s body that is the Church. It offers both spiritual and practical support to everyone who is in any need of help and support. They minister to the widows, orphans, the homeless and the needy in their community (Southport Christian Center, 2018).
The church offers baptism by immersion purposed to give one’s heart to God, trusting Christ, and receiving the promises of God. It put emphasis on the idea that God looks at the heart thus affirming the scripture binding them to uphold the biblical teaching of baptism. The church acknowledges that in some circumstances, God saves people by looking at the heart apart from the normative mode of baptism. Thus, believing that God is not bound to baptism, but they are.
The rites and ceremonies are based on the Eucharist sacraments. Communion is taken every week, following examples of the early church. This acts as a reminder of their foundational teachings of their faith relating to death, resurrection, ascension, and promised heavenly hope of communing one future day with Jesus in Heaven. Further, the church uses bible verses Genesis 1:27; Romans 5:12, 19 for spiritual deliverance giving reason and inspirations to those seeking change. The church believes that God made us for relationships, with our fellow human beings and with God himself. Love for others is the clearest demonstration to the world that we are true disciples.
In every week, people of the community are brought together by the church’s life groups. It was quoted that life is better when people are together thus discussing good news, bad news, problems, etc. and socializing have a tendency of making people happy and uplifted too. People help other church members to solve problems like the emotional breakdown and many more. They spoke freely about their beliefs by discussing with their family as the church members and solutions were presented to them accordingly. The church tends to be practical and relevant in its outreach to society taking in mind that it is a place where the needs of the people are met. It should be noted that the spiritual responsibility for the community, society, and nation ware accepted in the church.
The individual Bible reading sessions are conducted for the purpose of discussing the Bible as well as other stories related to the Bible and other scriptures. During the time of service, it was noticed that church members were given opportunities to share inspiring words waiting for the pastor who crowed the event. The church has special programs for Sunday school children, at which they nourish the plight of being a Christian. For the purpose of observing the stories in the Bible, play and musicals which are special ceremonies are organized. The ceremonies and sessions highly discussed the essential narratives as well as the church’s artwork relating to the descriptions.
All Church members must align with the church’s vision and values. The church officials have a right to undertaking all the available checks in ensuring that relationship between its members is based on mutual respect and love taking in mind that members are expected to follow the ethical rules taught in the individual sessions. The church allows its member to actively engage in positive social and political issues. The church is registered under the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1702 as required by law. It is also ensuring that, when the church recognizes a need to oppose on an issue, the views will be taken seriously.
A personal relationship builds the belief of the SCC congregation and motives in their worship practices. The classes help in guiding to the doctrinal statements ensuring that believers gather together in local congregation fellowship, prayer, scriptural teaching, mutual encouragement, disciple-making, and worship of God. These classes take church members on the spiritual journey by having a better knowledge about Jesus as well as connecting to the church (Southport Christian Center, 2018). This helps them to evolve a good relationship with God thus serving others with the ability given by God.
Practicality, as believed by the church, is their main strength faith and serving God. The tradition is what stated missing by the founder in all churches as observed by the church. Thus, this intention is what is continued making the SSC a unique group of Christian. This is accomplished upon strengthening of their programs as well as mission. The church is also unique in some ways as it was organized with seven members who gathered in homes for study and worship following Christ with confidence and trust.
The special Bible reading sessions, as well as the special ceremonies like communion, musicals, and plays, surprised me as they evoked a feeling of harmony. However, no uniformity was seen based on what people wear. They looked too casual to the point that the pastor lacked different attire from other members. The pastor could just wear casuals and proceed to preach, a church confirmed to me that clothing is not strict as long as one is decently dressed.
The Southport Christian Church teaches the Christian Biblical Beliefs and practices. Each member helps in building up the church in unity and love. It was noted that in the local congregation, the ministry happens under the authority of the elders. In the community of more than 3000 people, all members are attached to each other emotionally and every person is welcomed there despite their ethnicity or religion.
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