Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on… me? Perhaps. I feel justified in petting the dog that bit me this time. However, I doubt that I will find myself at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints again. I’ve now had two really bad experiences which I will detail here. Not out of anger, but for instructional purposes only.
First, let me give you some background. I’m not Mormon, nor have I ever been. When I’m home, I attend a Unitarian Universalist Congregation. For the uninitiated, it’s not a Christian church. Moreover, it’s a liberal Church with focus on spirituality over religion. They’re not about doctrine or theology. Services are about living better and finding your spiritual way.
Round 1 with the Latter Day Saints.
Last fall I found myself in Evanston Wyoming on a Sunday morning. I decided to attend church. Seeing that there was an Episcopalian church down the road, I set out for service. However, the time was listed wrong on Google. Being an hour and a half early, I decided to try the LDS church down the road.
I walked in about 15 minutes late. An elderly lady in the vestibule assured me it was fine to go in and sit down. Hence, I found a seat. I listened to the testimonies. An elderly man talked about rounding up horses in Utah for the government. It was a great story. A young girl, perhaps 6 or 7, said how much she would miss her brother when he left to be a missionary. She was adorable. Moreover, it was an enjoyable experience.
The service wraps up, but there’s apparently a second round of services. The leader instructs children under a certain age to go to one room. Children over that age would go to another. Everyone else was to assume their usual places. However, being a visitor I didn’t have one. Hence, I asked a man in my pew “I’m new here, where should I go?”. To this he replied…
“You can go wherever you want.”With that he turned and walked off.
I honestly felt like I had offended them. Perhaps you’re not supposed to attend an LDS church uninvited. Thus, I rushed out and down to St. Paul’s Episcopal. However, a Latter Day Saints friend told me this was not the case. Moreover they assured me that it was an anomaly and encouraged me to try again elsewhere.
Round 2 with the Latter Day Saints.
Dateline February 2nd, 2020, Paul’s Valley Oklahoma. Yes, today. An hour and a half ago, to be precise. My search for churches near me turned up the local LDS church 1.6 miles away. Service starts at 9am according to Google, so I leave at 8:20 and walk on over.
I arrived at about 8:40 but nobody was there. Odd. At 8:55 I was very suspicious. I called the number on their Facebook page. It was disconnected. Convinced I had walked a mile and a half for a defunct church, I left. However, a block or so down the road a car passed me heading towards the church. The man was wearing a suit and tie, so I watched them and saw him pull in to the church. Thus, I walked back.
Arriving at the church, I told him I was there for the service. He informed me that it didn’t start until 10. After a moment of looking at each other, I realized he wasn’t going to invite me in to wait. Now to be fair here, I didn’t ask of I could. Here’s why.
- The memory of my first encounter had me feeling out of my environment. Despite the sign declaring that visitors were welcome, I wasn’t necessarily convinced.
- I’m accustomed to being enthusiastically welcomed at church. Hence, the treatment that I would consider below average for a small business is very offputting.
I won’t return to an LDS church.
Again, I don’t say that in a disgruntled kind of way. I’m more confused. I have LDS missionaries that come to my house. When I’m home, I welcome them in. Furthermore, I offer them food and drinks. They’re not simply volunteers, they actually pay their own way. I respect that and treat them with kindness. However, I have to wonder why they go that far since the clearly could not care less if you show up at church or if you don’t.
I’m not asking for the red carpet here. Understand this church is on a farm road a half mile from Walmart. He saw me walking. There was no other car in the lot. He may not have known that I walked a mile and a half, but he had to have known that I’d walked over half a mile. Did he assume I would walk home and then walk all the way back?
I won’t avoid the church out of anger. Perhaps it was my attire. I was wearing a pair of nice jeans and a button down collar western dress shirt. Whatever it was, I will avoid their churches now because I know I’m not welcome. However, I will still welcome the missionaries at my house. I respect what those kids are doing, and they deserve to be treated fairly.
Have you had a similar experience? Perhaps you’ve experienced the opposite. Did I just randomly draw 2 bad hands? Let me know in the comments below.