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My First Time

I was brought up in the extremely conservative - in more ways than one - Mormon faith. As very young children, we were taught to worship "Reverently, Quietly." [That was the name of a Primary song that taught us how to properly and respectfully worship the Lord.] So imagine my experience last weekend at an African-American Pentecostal service.

One of our clients is the Church Of God In Christ (COGIC) demonimation, which is headquartered here in Memphis and has about 6.5 million members worldwide. Last week, the leader of the COGIC church passed away. And let me just say that the man was a pillar of Godliness here in town, across the nation and around the world. Very much well-loved and well-respected and admired. So this was quite a loss for COGIC. I was kind of expecting a lot of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I was not expecting dancing in the aisles.

When Mormons pray, they do so solemnly, with their heads bowed, their eyes closed and their arms folded. Prayers are always ended "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" to which the congregants respond with a quiet "Amen."

When Pentecostals pray, people in the congregation holler out to God. "Yesss, Lawd!" and "Thankyou, Jesus!" and "Praise God!" Yelling. And CLAPPING. They clap DURING the prayer if they like what the preacher is saying! Mormons never clap in church. For anything. Not even musical performances. Certainly not prayers.

The music is deafening. The choir was so large it spilled off the stage and into the first whole section of seating. Singing and clapping and praising Jesus. Gospel music at its finest. I wish someone had told me I could bring my own tambourine. I didn't know.

And the dancing. When the Holy Spirit moves you, you just can't sit still I guess. They go out into the aisles where they have more room. And they do this "stepping" kind of dance. And this was a funeral. I can only imagine how they must juke and jive on, say, Easter morning.