1. If you were raised without belonging to any Christian church you may attend any church service of your choice. If you were not raised Catholic, you may attend a Catholic mass or the services of any denomination other than your own. There are masses here at SMC but I strongly encourage you to visit an off-campus service. You should only go to SMC if you have genuine difficulty (for example, illness) going elsewhere. If you were raised Catholic (even if you no longer practice), you should choose a Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, or other type of Christian service. The service you attend may be here in the Burlington area, your hometown, or some other place you might visit. Be sure to write down the exact name and location of the church you attend. Attending with a friend who is a member of that particular church is another option.
2. Any worship service is eligible as long as the people in the congregation see themselves as Christian. This would exclude a Jewish synagogue or a Muslim mosque, among others.
3. You may NOT attend a mid-week service; it must be a full weekend service. You must attend in person — no online visits!
4. Your paper should include a thorough description of the service you attended (see below),
5. Your paper should also include a short overview of the branch or denomination of Christianity whose church you visited. This is very important and you must be specific—there are many different branches of the mainstream Protestant Churches (e.g. Methodist and Baptist). You could find some of this information in any good encyclopedia or similar source. You must cite the sources of your information. What to look for and what to write about:
A thorough description of the service: Observe carefully the rituals at the service. Is there a worship leader or leaders? What do the people call him or her (i.e., what is the title given to the leader or leaders)? Are there special words said by everyone, or some said by only the leader or leaders? Who else gets to participate in the service? What type of music is employed, and who sings or performs it? Is there artwork or decoration in the church? Of what type? What purpose does it serve? Is there a book or books used in the service? Is the Bible present, and how is it used? Do the people kneel or bow or cross themselves or do other ritual actions? When and why do they do this? Are there things missing in the service that you would expect from your own prior experience? Are there additional elements that you did not expect? You will probably not want to take extensive notes during the service, as this might be rude, but you will want to sit down immediately afterward to make a list of your impressions so that you can compose your paper later. I strongly encourage you to speak to the priest/pastor or other members of the congregation; most people will be very willing to help you.
The short overview of the branch or denomination of Christianity whose church you visited (Methodist, Evangelical, etc): How old is it? Who founded it? Do you know how many members there are? What is distinctive about their beliefs? Are there any current controversies worth mentioning? The purpose of this section is to show that you know something about the branch of Christianity that you visited, Try to use this part of the paper to make links with things that you observed during your visit (comment, explanation etc.).
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