I rolled into Providence on September 1, Labor Day weekend. It was a rather odd way to start live in a new city as businesses had limited hours, and after a ridiculous time of trying to negotiate the narrow, full of people roads during Waterfire on Saturday night, the city seemed to empty out Sunday morning while I slept in. I was so overwhelmed and dazed from being in the car for three days, that I didn’t care about much of anything.
So Human Traveling Companion and I walked downtown every day to get the lay of the land, coffee in the morning and beer in the afternoon, etc. En route to what was called “Downtown Arts District” when I moved here, now is called “Downcity Arts District” (why? why? who cares?), I walk by a rather non-descript Pentecostal church . It’s not a pretty church, like every building in my neighborhood it has a chain-link fence, and it looks like it was designed for some other purpose, but the people who go there seem to have some of the most fun I’ve ever seen.
Not being of a religious persuasion myself, I really don’t know much about organized religion. I took “World Religions” as an undergrad, but that covered mainly the non-christian religions of the world outside of America and Europe. Frankly, aside from having a friend of family in the town one grows up in, I don’t know how people know anything about these other Christian denominations. I know that this church is Pentecostal because there is a sign on it.
Anyway, when I had heard the word Pentecostal before, it was generally referring to the more strict, skirt-wearing religions (correct me if I’m wrong). The people who go to this church do not fit the descriptions I’d previously associated with Pentecostal. They’re all African-American, most wear these all-white outfits complete with a kind of hat one might use to deflect the sun at the beach– and they feast.
For two days they were inside the chain-link, in what looks like it should be a parking lot eating, and dancing, and generally making merry. There are tents set up, and giant silver buffet dishes– it’s very elaborate. In the late afternoon, things would be quiet and we’d see a couple people setting up, but as soon as the sun set– the revelry began. It was a sight to behold, and made me feel more positive about religion than I possibly ever have.
Then they vanished.
Since September 4th, I have not seen anyone going in or out of that church. The sign is still up, I assume they haven’t moved, but I just don’t know. I looked forward to walking by their celebrations, or hearing the whooping on nights when my windows are open, but I didn’t get to, sadly.
The other day though, I walked by, and there were two men in the faux parking lot/party space looking like they were making plans of some kind. So I don’t know if the partying Pentecostals are coming out of hibernation, but I certainly hope so.