Tag Archives: apostolic church of God

being a minority on the most segregated day of the week

i’m a white chick in america.  most of the places i go to i am the same color as most of the people around me.  there might or might not be asians, blacks, hispanics where i’m at but i’m seldom in a situation in which i’m the ONLY white woman in the joint.  this morning was a little bit of the strange.

meeting (so far) 275 facebook friends in person, i’ve learned a lot about how everyone struggles with or finds comfort with their faith.  this year, i’ve been to churches and synagogues, i’ve had long conversations with people of faith and people who profess no faith whatsoever.  i have had a laying on of hands in both the reiki and the christian tradition.  i have meditated with friends, prayed with others. i have been forgiven for past wrongs by facebook friends, and i’ve come to know peace in my relations with some facebook friends.  i have surprised by traditions i have i been shown.  i know facebook friends have prayed for me.

when i was growing up, my adoptive mother mrs. patrick tunneled towards a notion that i was a partner to satan.  not just possessed, because possessed would sort of mean that i still existed as a great daughter but i was being held captive by evil and you want to find the exorcist who will tease that satan out of your kid.  no, no, this notion was that me and satan–well, we had a lock on that fall from grace stuff. we were entrepreneurs.  we were doing a road trip on the saved.

this notion became a certainty for her and i came to believe she would kill me. . . and would regard killing me as doing good for the world.  as soon as i reached that conclusion about her, i knew i had to get out of the patrick household.  which i did when i was just shy of fifteen.  i am fifty one years old and it is still tough to think about God and tough to think about my adoptive mom.

my f2fb friend #275 dave gotaas doesn’t struggle in the same way.  his grandparents were missionaries in what was the belgian congo (present day democratic republic of the congo) and his parents were missionaries in south america until dave was in eighth grade.  the family then came to live in wilmette and dave’s father took over the winnetka bible church.  dave is sure of his faith but sometimes unsure about how the world around him can reject God.

i met dave because we're both in rotary club. he and his wife sally live in northfield. sally was busy being a hostess at their home church in lake forest so she couldn't join us

i got home from new york city late last night and frankly was in no mood to get up early and drive to the south woodlawn neighborhood of chicago for a church service.  but i was intrigued by the fact that dave often visits other churches and that this one is the chicago church he most admires.  in fact, he had introduced me to dr. byron t. brazier seniors and junior a few years ago at a rotary meeting. dave is a church service connoisseur.

we pulled into the parking lot at 63rd and south dorchester and dave’s pick up truck was pretty much the wreck of the yard (no disrespect, dave!)  also, i realized that although dave was wearing a nice enough suit and i was wearing the arlynn uniform of black skirt, sweater, and boots, we were horrifically underdressed.  i have been told by many pastors that God doesn’t care how you dress on sundays.  that might be true, but the God the parishioners were coming to see at the apostolic church was a God they wanted to impress, they wanted to honor, they wanted to show respect to.  and they were respecting each other by wearing a hat, a corsage, a bespoke suit.  as someone who saw parents at new trier graduation wearing “i’m with stupid” t-shirts and jeans. . . i was impressed.

as we walked from the parking lot (well, one of four parking lots surrounding the church), every single person greeted me and dave with a “praise the Lord” or “praise God”. . . .

in the movie crocodile dundee, mick dundee (played by paul hogan) greets every new yorker he passes with a "g'day!" which proves impossible as he walks along times square. there's just too many people to greet and it lightheartedly points out the difference between a rural australian and a tough american city. i sort of felt this in reverse at the apostolic church. so many people were greeting me and i didn't know how to maintain eye contact and respond quickly. . .

i was a little intimidated, as we took our seats, because dave and i were the only white people in the sanctuary which was filling up rapidly.   a half hour before the service started there were five hundred people.  then eight hundred, then a thousand people ready to worship together as a family.  it has been said that sunday is the most segregated day of the week, with americans dividing themselves into “black churches”, “white churches”, “korean churches”. . . i guess that’s probably true.  i don’t see many blacks, hispanics or asians at my catholic church.

i really felt the presence of God.  in the singing.  in the praising.  in the hands held up to receive the blessings of God.  people interrupting each other in their rush to praise Jesus and to reinforce rev. byron brazier’s message.  i counted thirty five people who were received at the pulpit because they had been baptized and then had made the decision to join the church.  at the end of the service, brazier asked if anybody wanted to come into the family of God, to be baptized, to have the peace of the love of God.  eight people walked up to the pulpit, three of them children.  much praise was given.

the sanctuary has an interesting feature:  set into the wall behind the pulpit is a built-in tub (kind of like a jacuzzi) about twenty feet above the three choir rows.  brazier finished the service and then he donned a white robe and, with an assistant similarly enrobed, he entered the tub from a door i couldn’t see.  the eight people, one by one, came out to be immersed in the water.  they had changed their clothes into white robes with white caps to protect their hair.  water spilled over onto a retaining wall.  people clapped and gave praise.  and then prayed for the next and newest baptimist.  i wanted, with every fiber of my being to be baptized.  p.s. i didn’t take any pictures because i would consider that to be sacrilegious but if you want to see the inside of the sanctuary, go to the church website at http://www.acog-chicago.org

and why didn’t i get baptized?  why didn’t i go?  if i felt like i could, why didn’t i?  part of it, i was the only white chick.  i didn’t want to draw attention (more attention) to myself.

but also, damn, the shower caps, the white robes, i’m one of those gals whose priests just put a teeny drop of holy water on you. . . no dunking!

how to work the runway–lessons in being a supermodel

sometimes i travel a long way to see a facebook friend and f2fb friend #274 victoria stone-grace traveled to visit me!  she and her friend marcus drove three hours from northampton, massachusetts to see me in new york before i headed back to winnetka.  i hadn’t seen tory in such a long time that i was worried i wouldn’t recognize her.  but then i saw a tall, cool, sophisticated gal amidst the earnest tourists, somberly dressed natives and, oh, yes, the santas.

new york city was host to a santa run and so a quarter of the people in midtown manhattan were dressed as either santa, a sexy santa, or an elf. i was dressed as a midwestern middle aged lady who lives out of a suitcase


then i saw a long, tall, sophisticated drink of a lady.  with a dude in a striped sweater.  tory grace had ARRIVED!  tory is my younger son’s eastman’s age, she’s a sophomore at smith college and she had moved with her family from winnetka when she was in seventh grade to live in texas.  i am facebook friends with both her and her brother alex.  up until a few months ago, alex lived in chicago and i sort of assumed i would get to see him when my schedule lightened up a bit.  then he was transferred by his company to mexico city.  i’ve already been on a one day trip to mexico city and know i won’t get to see him before the new year–

tory told me a curious story that forms one of her most vivid memories of me:  she and eastman were in fourth grade and had both been sentenced to detention.  as we all know, detention goes on your permanent record and can bar you from later success in life.  when i came to pick up eastman, i offered tory a ride home.  she was very upset thinking that she was now on the fast track to failuretown.  i told her no worries.

“you’re tall, beautiful, and you’re going to be a supermodel when you grow up,”  i said.  “and i might as well teach you how to walk like a supermodel right now so you’ll be ready when your big break comes.”

in order to walk like a supermodel, cross your right foot over your left leg so that it's actually to the left of that leg. then pull your left leg out from behind your right leg and place your right foot to the left of your left leg. this method is approved by giselle!


apparently, tory and i practiced supermodel walking up and down the hallway of crow island school until somebody told us to go home.  it was with a heavy heart that i confessed to tory that i am not, and have never been, a supermodel.  but that’s okay, because tory is a art history, philosophy and museum management triple threat major.  she can be a supermodel whenever she chooses to be.

then i realized i had to get to the airport.  i had f2fb friend #275 dave gotaas taking me to the apostolic church of God at eight a.m. the next morning.  i had to rush.  i asked tory and her friend what they were planning to do since they were already in new york.  they said they were going to the museum of modern art.  i did something that i could NEVER have done january first of this year. . .


thank you so much victoria stone-grace for coming to see me in new york and being part of my new year’s resolution!!!  and if you decide on that supermodel thing, i’m happy to give you a refresher course on the walk. . .