Mystery Worshipper: Amanda B. Reckondwyth
Church: New Beginnings Assembly of God
Location: Glendale, Arizona, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 31 October 2021, 10:00am
A plain grey concrete structure. From the live Facebook feed I could not get a good picture of what the interior looks like.
They sponsor Royal Rangers and Girls Ministries and a young adults group. There is also a food pantry for the needy. They have one Sunday morning worship service, a Tuesday evening prayer service, and Wednesday night Bible study. Their services are bilingual – English and Spanish.
Glendale is one of the western suburbs of Phoenix. The church is located on 51st Avenue just north of where Grand Avenue (U.S. Route 60) crosses it. A rather plebeian neighborhood consisting primarily of strip malls and a variety of mom-and-pop commercial establishments.
The husband-and-wife pastoral team. She wore a bright flowery dress and peach-colored sweater; he a blue patterned sports shirt and grey suit. The husband was assisted by a gentleman in white shirt and dark slacks who translated from English to Spanish for him.
What was the name of the service?Standing Still – The Service of October 31st, 2021.
How full was the building?
Impossible to say – I watched the service live on Facebook. The live feed had 36 views.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Was your pew comfortable?
My desk chair was its usual comfortable self.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There wasn’t any. The Facebook feed began without introduction.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
‘Good morning. God bless everyone.’ (Then in Spanish: ‘Good morning and welcome to the house of God.’)
What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. In the video feed, words were displayed in subtitles, both in English and in Spanish. I assume that they were projected somehow in the live service.
What musical instruments were played?
Acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar.
Did anything distract you?
I think the biggest distraction was trying to see how much of the Spanish I understood. I was pleased to see that I understood most of it.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Relatively calm compared to some Pentecostal-type services I've witnessed. It began with the lady pastor reading from Psalm 9 (God defeats our enemies), after which she spoke some inspirational words. Then about a half-hour’s worth of Christian rock. After that the gentleman pastor took over, leading the congregation in an inspirational testimony about the Bible. After a prayer and some news bulletins, he read from Exodus 14 (Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt), on which he based his sermon. He ended his sermon with a prayer followed by some concluding music that was of a calmer nature than the opening songs.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
50 minutes. As it was given both in English and in Spanish, the actual content was about half as long.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 — The pastor spoke clearly and in English, pausing after each sentence so that another gentleman could translate his words into Spanish. I would rate the translator a 10 – he kept right up with the pastor, and from what I know of Spanish it sounded to me like his translation was accurate. He only stumbled over one word, which the pastor had to translate for him.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
One of our biggest problems today is that we don’t know how to stay calm. God has plans for us – but sometimes we make our own plans. Those plans are destined to fail because they are not God’s will. Satan tries hard to hold believers in oppression, without hope – that’s his job! But those of us who believe that all things are possible with God are guaranteed a victory. The enemy has no hold on us. Sin is no longer our master. Sometimes, when we want something badly, we’ll do whatever it takes to get it. But when we are blind to the will of God, we will destroy ourselves. What we must understand is that God himself will fight for us – just be calm! Do we just say this, or do we really believe this? With God on our side, we have nothing to fear. We need to be alone with God, have a quiet time with God, forget all our problems, and listen to his whisper. Stand still, and let God do his work for us.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I was most impressed by the lady pastor. Her demeanor was calm and sincere, and I found her portion of the service quite inspiring.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
At one point the gentleman pastor’s microphone gave out, and we heard only the Spanish translation. But the translator calmly fetched another microphone and handed it to him – crisis solved.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I have no idea how the service actually concluded, as the live video feed cut out abruptly in the middle of the concluding music. If anyone stood around looking lost, or even looking found for that matter, the details are a mystery to me.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I ventured out to my favorite Chinese buffet restaurant and treated myself to a luncheon feast.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 — I can’t be sure of what was happening in the congregation – all the whooping and wailing and babbling in tongues that you find in many Pentecostal-type services were not in evidence. That sort of thing is not my style of worship, but if it is truly absent here, then I wouldn’t mind attending a live service. If nothing else, it would give me a great opportunity to sharpen my Spanish.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The skill with which the translator rendered the pastor’s English sermon into Spanish.