|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
of God Fellowship, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
of God Fellowship, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.
Awfully hard to spot and harder still to photograph, the church
is a large warehouse-like structure located off a two-lane road
in a wooded area of southeast Raleigh. A second building, the
Family Life Center, sits nearby. Inside, the sanctuary seating
is divided into eight square-shaped sections of chairs, with
aisles between the sections.
Their website states that they offer "something for the
entire family," with Bible study, classes and conferences
held at various times. They sponsor Word of God Christian Academy,
a school for children in all grades, including pre-school. They
also conduct outreaches to the homeless, the elderly, and those
in prison. There is one worship service each Sunday, and a Friday
night service on the first and third Friday of each month.
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and enjoys a high quality
of life and healthy business climate. Raleigh plus the nearby
cities of Durham and Chapel Hill comprise the "Research
Triangle," a major center for high-tech and biotech research.
Famous sons include the Revd James A. Forbes, senior minister
emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York City; and Andrew
Johnson, 17th president of the United States.
The Revd Bishop Frank Summerfield and the Revd JoeNell Summerfield,
pastors. There were others as well who did not provide their
The date & time:
May 24, 2009, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Approximately three-quarters full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Golf carts were available for those who wished a ride from the
parking lot to the church entrance. I boarded one of these and
was whisked away by a friendly gentleman who, I thought, zipped
around one of the corners way too fast. Still, I had never been
in a golf cart before so this was a neat experience for me.
As soon as I entered the building, a lady and a gentleman were
waiting to shake my hand and present me with an offering envelope.
Was your pew comfortable?
The chair was comfortable. I was sitting in the first row of our section, on an aisle seat. The pews were teal-colored interlocking chairs.
How would you describe the pre-service
Due to transportation problems I arrived a few minutes late,
and so I missed out on the pre-service activities (if any).
What were the exact opening words of the
Unfortunately, I also arrived too late to capture the exact opening words of the service.
What books did the congregation use during the
There were no hymn books or Bibles available. The lyrics to
the songs were projected onto a screen that was at the front.
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard, bass guitar and drums.
Did anything distract you?
The music was too loud. In addition, there were quite a few
misspelled words in the song lyrics as displayed on the projection
screen. That got me distracted because I kept looking for other
typos whenever something was shown on the screen. Did I already
mention that the music was loud? Also, there were cameramen
who moved throughout the sanctuary as the service progressed.
They would point their cameras at random parishioners. A few
times, it seemed as if the cameras were focused directly on
me. It was unsettling – I wanted to look at the camera, but
I also wanted to be attentive to the service. I am not sure
where the camera images were displayed; I didn't see them projected
anywhere during the service.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The worship was energetic and powerful (and loud). During the
worship, most people in attendance were standing, clapping their
hands, dancing in the aisles, or shouting to Jesus in admiration.
I felt it was extremely reverent and moving. The choir was huge
– they filled up the entire choir stand. They were also very
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 Bishop Frank Summerfield and his wife JoeNell delivered
the sermon jointly, both standing in the pulpit together. I
had never seen this done before. I was later informed that this
is a method that they use on an occasional basis. I liked it
– it was unique. As they spoke, certain parishioners would
interject phrases such as: "Thatís real there!" or
"Thatís good teaching!" or "Iím tryiní to be
righteous!" Sometimes these sounded a bit comical and would
get the whole church laughing – including the preachers!
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
They spoke on 1 Corinthians 13, St Paul's famous discourse on
the power of love. They emphasized the importance of love in
household management: Evaluate your potential spouse before
proposing marriage. Be in agreement with your spouse over financial
matters. There should only be one "pocketbook" in
the household. Act out of divine love toward your spouse and
children. Donít intentionally offend your spouse. Separation
or divorce is unheard of in God's ears.
Which part of the service was like being in
At one point a lady was invited to come up to the pulpit. She
testified about how she gave her tithes and offering and unexpectedly
received a $1,000 check in the mail a few days later. In addition,
there was a lady to the left of the stage who was signing for
the hearing impaired. She would sway to the music as she was
signing. It was her way of praising the Lord while she signed.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
During the public offering, there were strobe lights turning
in all directions, keeping in tempo with the (loud) music. To
be honest, it gave me the creeps! It reminded me of when I used
to attend concerts while in college. In fact, if all the other
lights had been turned off in the sanctuary, there would have
been a definite disco effect.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
An older gentleman named Carl introduced himself and asked me
how I had enjoyed the service.
How would you describe the after-service
There was none.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 If I lived in the area, I would keep this church in mind. Itís a good church that really preaches the Word.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. I like seeing a pastor full of passion regarding the importance
of building a Godly home and family. The family unit is extremely
crucial in the dynamic of a life and of a generation. Everything
seemed to flow together during the service. And, even though
I was there almost three hours, it didnít seem that long at
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
I have three things that I will remember: (1) I am thankful
that I did not fall out of the golf cart; (2) I am grateful
for having been the spelling bee champion of my fifth grade
class; (3) I am delighted that I can still hear.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.