Sunday, October 11, 2009

New St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church

Jon, Tyson and I went to the church on the corner of our block today.  I don't know if I've ever felt more welcomed in my life.  The congregation was about forty people, which is actually a bit more than I expected.  We were the only non-black folks there, as far as I could tell.  It felt very much like a big family.

We thought the service started at 10:30, and arrived at that time, which actually put us there for the last five minutes of the "church school" hour.  Brought Bible: 21; Read Bible: 21.  Minutes for the hour read, corrections made.

We may have been the only men not wearing suits or sports coats of some kind.  But I felt no judgement for my jeans and hoodie.  Perhaps I've just become accustomed to crossing cultures in many ways for a church service, but I felt completely at peace there, completely comfortable.

Didn't see the pastor until part way through worship about 20 minutes later.  Instruments: electric organ, electric guitar, drum set.  It was very bluesy, moving.  But definitely not charismatic.

Rev. Pastor Walter Cheeks used both the KJV and the Message during the sermon, which impressed me.  When everyone pulled out their KJVs for the responsive reading earlier in the service I wondered if this was a  King James only church.  But not so.

They were formal with their titles.  Everyone is a Sister or Brother or Minister or Evangelist or Reverend or...

In the middle of the service Rev. Cheeks asked us if any of us played an instrument.  Jon admitted to playing the bass guitar, and the pastor immediately recruited him to play for their worship team.  Tyson and I didn't admit any musical talent.

We got to talk to a bunch of people after the service, including a woman (and her daughter) who has lived one block south of us for over 20 years and is on the board for the neighborhood association (or whatever the semi-governing body is called).  She was one of many who assured us that if we ever needed anything we could get in touch with them.  So I'm looking forward to begin building relationships with some of our neighbors through church.

We also talked to Rev. Cheeks after the service.  It was a really good conversation.  He was very direct with us in basically asking what we were doing here.  He probed deeply about our calling and mission and gifts.  And I think it was really good for the three of us to be challenged to articulate those things.  He even asked about our experience working with the black community, and I really appreciated his openness about the significance of the racial divide in our attempts to reach out to our community.

I don't want to rush the decision, but I think that this will be my church home in Detroit.  I expressed to Luke today a tiredness I feel in worshiping at a different place week after week.  Thin and stretched.  I also feel more acutely than ever a deep need and desire for a mentor.  A glass can only spill what it contains.

It is a small church, and from the almost desperate pleas of the committed congregants that we return, it was clear that the church is in need.  I get the feeling that as soon as a month from now I could be leading and serving as much as I wanted.  And I do desire to serve.  I think a dose of vision from a fresh perspective is always good for an organization.  But right now I just really want to be lead.  I want to be taught.  My prayer is to balance those things well.

God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love.  Praise him!

1 comment:

Ryan said...

M a t t, that sounds marvelous. I think that definitely sounds like an "in" into the community that well have great results in a lot of different ways. I've been to churches like that before but it would be really cool to actually be a part of it for more than one Sunday. Can't wait to see you next week!