Smile Politely

The Church Hopper #3: St. Luke CME

This past Sunday, April 27, my family and I attended St. Luke Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Champaign. I had never attended a CME church before and so I really did not know what to expect. The only things I really knew for sure were that this church has, like me, a Methodist heritage and that it has, unlike me, a black heritage.

I have visited or attended many Methodist churches (e.g., Urbana First UMC, Champaign First UMC, Wesley UMC, New Horizon ) but they have all, unfortunately, lacked in the area of cultural diversity. I have also visited a few black churches (e.g., Love Corner, Salem Baptist, Canaan Missionary Baptist ), but none of these had Methodist roots.

So I was quite curious about St. Luke CME, for here is a church that has both a black and a Methodist heritage. How, then, would it come across? Would one of these heritages win out over the other? Or would this church somehow manage to marry Methodist and black culture into a cohesive whole?

I was pleased to find that the latter was the case.

The worship service at St. Luke followed traditional Methodist liturgy and all of its old familiar trappings were present including an organ prelude, call to worship, choir processional, hymns, gloria patria, scripture reading, sermon, offering, doxology, benediction and postlude. We even said the Apostle’s Creed.

But this wasn’t your old, stodgy, anal-retentive Methodist worship service, for driving all of this familiar liturgy was the infectious and celebratory music of the black church.

It rocked.

And the folks at St. Luke were by far the friendliest I have ever met in a worship service. I think almost everyone in that church shook my hand.

My only complaint about St. Luke — and forgive me if I’m starting to sound like a broken record — is that there was no Eucharist. I really don’t want to preach another sermon here about the importance of Communion in Christian worship, so all you churches out there in Champaign-Urbana, would you please just start doing it every time you worship?

OK, off my soapbox.

St. Luke is a lively and friendly church that has successfully joined the Methodist and black cultures into a rockin’ good worship service. So if that’s what you’re looking for in a church then check ’em out at 809 N. Fifth Street in Champaign.

St. Luke Christian Methodist Episcopal Church: 4 stars

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