The Canadian Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church in Yukon, Oklahoma is located off of a very rural intersection and if you did not know what you were looking for you’d never recognize it. It is a very humble building which I feel is a perfect representation of the people that attend this church. This church meets on Saturday mornings and it is split up into two main sections: Sabbath School and The Divine Hour.
Before Sabbath School started, as a congregation, we sang hymns from a hymnal book that was under every chair in the auditorium. These hymns were sung without a piano and were sung by a woman with a microphone in the front and the rest of the congregation followed along and joined her. Because they were able to sing these hymns with harmonies without the piano, it leads me to believe that these were comfortable hymns for them to sing because they did not need the assistance of the piano. There were only a few dozen people in the room so when people sang, it was very exposed. However, I do not think that this affected anyone in the congregation because they all seemed comfortable singing loudly for all to hear. For this service, I came in with the assumption that Sabbath School meant that it would be a school for children, however, this was a group class full of adults. This was really interesting because it was a group of about ten people in a circle of chairs. There were two groups in the room and my two classmates and I chose the one with about ten people. The man leading our group passed around small sticky notes with Bible passages on them and when it was our turn he asked us to read them out loud for the group to listen to and discuss. Having us read the Bible Passages out loud was much more powerful than if he were to have told us just to read them by ourselves and then discuss. Reading them out loud for each other brings the material closer to the people. I did not take any recordings of these readings of Bible passages because it was a very small and intimate environment and I did not want to change the comfortable vibe in the group by starting to record.
Divine Hour was when everyone in the church, regardless of age, came to the auditorium and met as a congregation. They opened with some hymns similar to the ones sung at Sabbath School but this time they were accompanied by two pianists on electric keyboards. The things that stuck out to me the most about this service were how involved everyone was in the service. Everyone was given a chance to speak if they wanted to. For example, children led some of the prayers and veterans were able to share some of their war stories (this service took place near Veteran’s Day). It was a very welcoming community. My two classmates and I were introduced by name – over the microphone – to the entire group and it was really nice because I felt very welcome. There was one portion of the service when everyone was instructed to introduce themselves to others in the room and let them know how happy they were that they were there to worship with them today. I was greeted by a few people with an “I’m glad that you’re here today!” and it made me feel very comfortable and like I was wanted to be there by the congregation. The fact that the church makes it a point to at every service have the congregation greet others and verbally thank them for attending church that day shows how powerful the human voice can be in a setting like this. Through both services I learned a lot about how the Canadian Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church uses the human voice, sound, and music in their services.
By Kasey Presley