Field Notes
9-20-09

Alexander Chapel

Alexander Chapel is a small brick church just past Avenue P in Lubbock. It’s a bright and warm Sunday morning; I’m greeted at the door with smiles and handshakes along with a program for the morning service. I take my seat in the back of the chapel and listen in on the end of Sunday school while filling out my visitor’s card. There is less than 20 people in the chapel during the end of the Sunday school session all but two including myself are not African-American. Sunday school is closed with a call to worship which let’s everyone waiting in the entrance way know that the service is getting ready to begin.
The space is not overly small or large, the pews are wood with a purple fabric, and the carpet on the floors is the same shade of purple. There is a pulpit on the left hand side of the stage the band is situated on the opposite side. There is a piano, keyboard set to an organ sound, electric guitar and a drum set arraigned in a semi circle. There is a single adornment of a simple cross at the center of the wall facing the congregation.

At the conclusion of Sunday school a man takes his place at the keyboard and begins to play quietly. Eventually the drummer takes his place at the drum set and another man takes up the electric guitar. An older woman who was sitting up at the front by the stage during Sunday school takes a microphone while another two women join her up front. She begins with the following as a call to worship.

“Good morning everybody, amen praise God. Amen, we’re going to magnify and praise God this morning, amen. We come to Worship the Lord our God, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about Him, amen. I’m thankful because the word of God says this is the day that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. So let’s stand up on our feet and let us give God worship amen. We’ve come to worship God today, amen. Praise the Lord, David said in the 34th Psalm I will extol thee Lord at all times, just praise him always, our soul will boast in the Lord let him hear it and rejoice, Glorify the Lord, praise God we’ve come to Glorify God, we’ve come and he is worthy halleluiah…”

Towards the end of her call to worship she begins to get louder and more animated and the audience slowly begins to call out and clap all the while the piano grows behind her and at the climax of this opening the organ and drums and guitar slowly add in with impromptu riffs and cords with cries of Halleluiah and praise the Lord from various voices around the room. As she pauses in her call to worship an older man leads in a prayer. The theme of his prayer is thankfulness with numerous cries of “yes Lord, Amen’s and Praise the Lord” scattered throughout the room. There is an unseen signal and the three singers and audience begin to clap and then the band begins to play full out the first song of the morning. At this point there are still only just a few members of the congregation present; this seems to be a bit of an in-between time, between the Sunday school session and what would eventually lead into the beginning of the service. The song the woman sings is “Glorify His Name.” At least that’s the main refrain in the song.

[Audio clip] 14:00-20:30

As the song finishes up another older man gets up to announce the beginning of the responsive reading from Psalm 118:1-6 led by another woman in the congregation. This leads directly into a reading corporately of the affirmation of faith which is printed in the program. Throughout the reading and the affirmation of faith the organ continued to play.

1. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; because his mercy endureth for ever.
2. Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
3. Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
4. Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
5. I called upon the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.
6. the LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

We believe the Bible to be the inspired and only infallible written Word of God.
We believe that there is One God, eternally existent in three Persons; God the Father, god the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the Blessed Hope, which is the rapture of the Church of God, which is in Christ at His return.
We believe that the only means of being cleansed from sin, is through repentance, and faith in the precious Blood of Jesus Christ
We believe that regeneration by the Holy Ghost is absolutely essential for personal salvation.
We believe that the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross provides healing for the human body in answer to believing prayer.
We believe that the baptism in the Holy Ghost, according to Acts 2:4; is given to believers who ask for him.
We believe in the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling, the Christian is enabled to live a Holy and separated life in this present world…Amen

[Audio Clip] 21:00-23:50

The worship team was made up of four women singers, each with their own microphones, drums, guitar, keyboard and piano. One singer was the lead with the other three as back ups. The lead would speak a few words in between each song, lifting up prayers that would lead into the next song.

“Oh come let us adore Him”
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”
“I command my hands, to praise the Lord”

[Audio Clip] 24:00-37:25

As the set ended the singers came out into the audience while singing the last verse so that they were in their own seats by the finish.
Once the singers were in their seats an older man took to the podium and called out…

“God is good, (response “All the time”) All the time, (response, God is good.)

This was an automatic response from the congregation requiring no prompting.

He then led in a prayer over the offering and that the Lord would meet the needs of the congregation as they give; again the organ is playing underneath this entire exchange.

The offering was taken by the congregation row by row leaving their seats and going to the front of the chapel to put their money in baskets held by the ushers at the front. The band continues to play the last song from the worship set while this happens. Some people start to sing along after arriving back in their seats.

A young women gets up and gives the morning announcements, this is one of the few times that no music can be heard. At this point in the service the chapel has pretty much filled up, upwards of around 50 people in the congregation. I see children, teenagers, college age and very old, I don’t see many if any in the 30 something age range.

After the announcements the pastor takes his place at the piano and leads the congregation in another call and response song.

“Oh Lord we praise you, Oh Lord we glorify you, Oh Lord we lift your name up, high above the earth.
Oh Lord we magnify you, and we bless your holy name, oh Lord we lift your name high above the earth.”

“We lift your name high, higher above the earth.”

“Higher in all the earth”

“We lift your name high, higher in all the earth.”

[Audio Clip] 47:13-54:09

The music picked up again as the pastor transitioned from his sermon into the call to discipleship, the congregation signing and humming softly. He begins to sing…

“God has Smiled on me, he has set me free. God has, smiled on me he’s been good to me.”

A young woman comes forward to commit her life to living better, the music continues as he prays over her. The music swells as he wraps up his prayer over the girl and gives his closing benediction.

[Audio Clip] 1:36:15-1:43:00

Order of Service

Call to Worship
Responsive Reading
Affirmation of Faith
Praise & Worship
Ministry of Giving
Announcements
Recognition of Guests
Word of God
Call to Discipleship