Monday, October 7, 2013

All Are Welcome Here

A small brick church is located on a street corner in a high crime transitional neighborhood.  

During the week, more than 100 students in grades 4-12 fill the building to overflowing for the Hands of Christ After School Program. Picnic tables under the trees are in daily use for church activities and community families enjoying the shade and the playground. During the summer months, residents from the surrounding community come daily for free lunch where all are welcome.  

On Sunday morning the congregation begins to gather 45 minutes before worship begins. Some come walking, some drive a few minutes, some drive more than half an hour. There are families with children - lots of children - young adults, singles, straight and gay. There are Hispanics, Anglos and African Americans. There are people from Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico. Some can barely read, others have graduate degrees. Some have served prison time. Some are recovering alcoholics. Some are citizens; some are not. There are many differences, but those differences are unimportant as the congregation gathers for worship at Iglesia Metodista Unida Douglas Street United Methodist Church. 

After being greeted on the patio, most people stop by a small room on the right of the narthex for continental breakfast, which is taken into the traditional sanctuary and eaten throughout the service. As the music begins there are worship videos in English and Spanish, traditional hymns, contemporary music and a variety of musical styles. Diversity is the face of worship in this multicultural, bi-lingual church.  

Every Sunday is a day of Pentecost with worshippers hearing the Gospel in their own language. Many who worship on Sunday have not felt comfortable or welcome in other churches. Here they find a church home where all are welcome. Because we are one in Jesus Christ, we look for ways to build bridges.  

It has been my privilege for more than ten years to be pastor of this wonderful congregation. Each day I see God at work and lives being transformed. 

In Luke 10:27 Jesus calls us to love God and love our neighbors. What bridge is God asking you to build?  Who needs a place to feel welcomed?  What doors need to be opened? 

--Rev. Angela Gilreath-Rivers, pastor of  Iglesia Metodista Unida Douglas Street United Methodist Church.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

No comments: