Monday, June 13, 2016

finding a church home

It can be incredibly difficult to find a spiritual home in a new place - especially if you're as picky about where you worship as I am. Some YASCers are placed with a parish, but since I work for a provincial organization, I was free to attend anywhere I wanted (or to sleep in on Sundays if I preferred). For a few months, I did some church hopping and felt a little like Goldilocks. Something was always not quite right for me.

I realized that I was spoiled by All Saints which its beautiful architecture, high church liturgy, impressive choir, moving sermons, and welcoming community. While I wasn't looking for something exactly the same, I wanted somewhere where I felt welcomed, challenged, and inspired. I wanted a church that could entice me from my bed on Sunday mornings. After receiving a recommendation by three different people, I found myself in Central Methodist Mission on the bustling Greenmarket Square one Sunday early this year.

When I walked in, I saw this mirror just beyond the baptismal font. It reads "you are beautiful... and so is your enemy." With that statement I was simultaneously affirmed and challenged.

I'd heard people speak about Alan Storey and his incredible work and prophetic voice. He has lived up to this expectation with consistently powerful sermons. But the assistant minister Michelle, an American with a melodic Mississippi twang, truly drew me in.

Michelle is one of those special humans who makes you feel instantly comfortable with her, like you've known her for years. She has a warmth and energy about her, a way of letting you know that she is truly listening, fully absorbing every detail. She says her favorite aspect of ministry is pastoral care; it shows.

One of Alan's greatest ministries is Manna and Mercy, a weekend workshop that guides participants through the Bible in a way you've never heard it before. Through historical context, careful exegesis, and "the lens of Jesus' life," Alan makes this radical message accessible to a wide audience.

CMM recently welcomed visitors from the Eastern Cape - pensioners who were protesting at Parliament after being denied payments owed to them. They slept in the sanctuary for two months, and it was incredible for the space to be used in this way - as a literal sanctuary for those seeking it. Their presence during worship on Sundays was an incredible gift - with powerfully translated messages in both English and isiXhosa and lively singing and joyful thanksgiving.

I've been incredibly grateful to find myself here and for the wonderful people I've met through it. You can read more about it here and find audio for Sunday sermons here (I especially recommend March 25: Excruciating Vulnerability and June 12: Tears of Solidarity).

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