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January 2013

Best Sunday Ever

Three years ago Trinity Cathedral stepped up when the county stopped all funding for winter homeless shelter. Whenever it got rainy or cold, we housed and fed up to 150 homeless people in our parish hall and classrooms. This was an emergency response that had a significant impact on the congregation. Over these past three years, the DNA of the congregation has been changing as on-site ministries to people in need have become part of our regular life. The transition has not always been smooth. Sadly, some people have stopped worshiping with us because they felt uncomfortable or even unsafe. During the initial year of this ministry, their were times when their concerns were certainly rational. It was not an easy transition as we learned to welcome more people to the Cathedral. At the same time new, younger people were joining the congregation — people who wanted to be a part of a congregation that did more than talk about loving others. Meanwhile, I worried. Would too many people leave? How will we pay the bills if those joining were homeless or young adults? I also hoped that if we stayed faithful to what we believed God was calling us to, that it would all work out.

This Sunday I saw the new church that was being born in our midst. It was breathtaking. And a large part of my vision came in the form of the sermon. But first let me mention some of the other things I noticed. We have three primary services on Sunday: 7:30, 9:00 and 11:15. At the 11:15 service I looked out on the congregation and was struck by the age diversity. It was no longer a congregation of older people. There were a significant number of people in their 20′s, 30′s and 40′s. There were three bi-racial baptismal candidates. The oldest was 12. He was barefoot so I could anoint and kiss his feet. There were two blind people in the congregation. The “thank offering” included a woman in her 50′s giving thanks for her accomplishments in bowling in the Special Olympics, a 65 year old man giving thanks for his birthday and 20 years of ministry at the Cathedral, a young couple who said they had been trying to conceive a child for a long time and nothing worked until they came up for healing prayers at the Cathedral and now they were several months pregnant, a grandmother saying goodbye in her West African dialect (interpreted by her daughter) and thanking the congregation for its hospitality, and a woman who said she had been homeless and thanks to the ministry of the Cathedral she now had a home and was thriving. Prior to the service we had a forum that talked about the things that are being done by members of the Cathedral to address the wider issues that cause homelessness.

I also had a reception for newly received members. There were two women in their 20′s, a couple in their 30′s or 40′s with their son and a couple in their 50′s or 60′s. Once again, the range of ages was striking.

Then there was this sermon preached by Cathedral members Loren Weatherly and Cheri Meadows. Best…sermon…ever.