Something Old, Something New

24Feb12

On our first Sunday in Paraguay, we had the opportunity to worship at the very oldest DOC church in the country, and at one of the youngest. We soon discovered that we couldn’t have picked two more different churches!

Our morning started with a visit to Luque (“LOO-kay”), a suburb of Asunción. Pastor Roberto Martínez explained that his congregation was founded just twelve years ago, making it one of newest DOC churches in Paraguay. During its first year, the congregants mostly worshipped outdoors under a tree. One of the members eventually donated land for the church building. Now the church has a thriving social ministry, including a weekly medical clinic and a free meal/Bible study program for neighborhood kids. The congregation is currently building an indoor dining area for the children, because right now the only space for them to eat is – you guessed it – under a tree!

Preparing for worship in Luque, Paraguay

Pastor Martínez (left) gets ready for the service to begin

After our visit to Luque, we headed into Asunción to attend worship with the DOC congregation at Avenida Perú. Pastor Néstor Aveiro told us that, at 72 years old, the Avenida Perú church is the oldest in Paraguay. The traditional-style building—complete with a vaulted ceiling and dark wooden rafters—and the congregation—which still includes some of its founding members—embodies the history of the DOC in Paraguay.

The Disciples of Christ church on Avenida Peru

Paraguay's oldest Disciples of Christ church, located on Avenida Perú

One of our observations from our back-to-back visits to Luque and Avenida Perú was how different each worship service was. The Luque worship style is known here as “pentecostal.” Rather than following an order of worship that most main-line U.S. Protestants would recognize, the service featured three main elements: an extended period of sung praise led by a team of musicians and dancers, a sermon, and an extended period of prayer, during which worshippers could come forward to be prayed for by other members of the congregation.

Worship in Luque, Paraguay

Worship at the Disciples of Christ church in Luque

At Avenida Perú, on the other hand, worship was similar to the services I grew up attending in the Lutheran Church: we took Communion, said the Lord’s Prayer, and even sang some familiar hymns.

After the Avenida Perú service ended, James and I marveled at how one denomination could contain such a diversity of worship styles. Our experience reminded us that each person’s spirituality may be nourished in different ways, sometimes through spontaneous singing and dancing, and sometimes through traditions that have been handed down through generations.

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2 Responses to “Something Old, Something New”

  1. 1 Zack Mabe

    Hi Jim and Marian!
    I just wanted you to know that I’m following your blog and keeping you in my prayers. All the best to you both!

    Zack Mabe
    Terryville Congregational Church
    Terryville, Conn.


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