I reallly got a sense of the importance of Religion in Appalachia as the service lasted three and a half hours! The majority of this was the testimonials. I had to admire the passion that these people worshipped with. It was a cathartic process for them and a good number of them broke into tears or near it throughout the service. Toward the end, one of the kids from the Farm requested that we sing Amazing Grace. During this, one of the men in the congregation was moved to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. So not only did I get to go to a revival, but I saw someone get saved too! How’s that for my first Pentecostal service? I discovered yet another pillar of Appalachian strength that night. Many of the testimonials were about how the individuals had been in a low place, sometimes financially related, but that they kept their faith in God and they had pulled through. They all seemed to have such a steadfast belief in God’s power to get them through hardships. It was a powerful experience just to be a witness to.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Wednesday provided a glimpse into another of Jones’ Appalachian Values. This time it was religion. We had the opportunity to attend Mosby Pentecostal Church. Traveling deep into another holler led us to one of the most unique experiences of the week: a pentecostal revival. A revival is usually a weeklong period that the church uses to stir up the congregation’s enthusiasm by encouraging them to get others saved. The service was so different from any of the Catholic services I’ve attended. First, when they prayed, they prayed out loud. So when the pastor asked everyone to bow their heads and pray there was the commotion of 40 people all praying for different things at the same time. There were plenty “Amens!” and “hallelujahs!” both from the preacher and congregation. There was also some whooping for good measure. The service itself wasn’t as structured as I was used to. There was a sermon delivered by Brother Rick and they had a guest preacher deliver a sermon loosely tied to the beatitudes. After this they played music and called anyone to share music or prayer in a testimonial “as the spirit moved them”. There was no time limit to the service and it only ended when everyone in the congregation had their say. Brother Rick said that if the service kept him out until 3 AM and he had to get up at 5 AM the next morning, God would give him the strength to do it.