Where it all Began
church of god - freeport
This church, in Freeport, New York, is the church “where I first saw the light, and the burdens of my heart rolled away.” It’s a church in the Black Church tradition. My parents were married here, and my grandparents were married here. This is the place where I learned to sing in the choir, where I first experienced the presence of God (while singing in the choir), and learned the power of prayer. We used to call it Freeport Church of God (FCOG), but now they are known as the Church of God - Freeport.
FCOG is a part of the Anderson, IN Church of God denomination (not the other one). When I am in New York, I always go back home to say hello. I still count on prayers of this church.
The Church that Changed Everything
The Brooklyn Tabernacle
The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Brooklyn Tab. Or simply BT. This is the church that changed my life. I was a cute, single, professional in the city, living the life I had hoped for. I was done with the routine of church, and disappointed in God, though I would never have said that. I had stopped caring that I had stopped going to church. Sundays were for brunch. A new friend gently suggested that I give church one more try. Reluctantly, I did. I visited BT, which I knew nothing about; a fact that made the church appealing as one that was not a part of the same-old-same-old. One visit and I never left. I spent the next season of my life growing, serving, singing, praying, leading and loving. This is where I lost my self-consciousness about worshiping Jesus, and discovered the joy and liberty of saying, “Hallelujah!” out loud. This is where I learned the difference between saying prayers and praying (it’s all about the heart connection). This is where I witnessed God’s incredible responses to prayers offered in faith. This is where I came to cherish the intense presence of the Holy Spirit, which is different from the Spirit’s ordinary presence. BT is where I was mentored in matters of faith and life, by men who lived the kind of Christian reality of old. It was here that the Lord taught me the Bible, and here that I received God’s call into ministry. Before BT, I had a full life, of which God and church was more or less a part. BT gave me a faith that was my life, that the other pieces of my life fit into.
The Church that I Grew Into
At Divinity School my faith took on entirely new dimensions. I remember feeling outraged and sad when I realized that the full spectrum of knowing the Bible that I so loved had been withheld from me by people who thought it was for my own good. I remember going to Brooklyn Tab over the Christmas holidays, and being troubled by the way holy communion was described. The pastor leading the service (a man who was only there temporarily) kept emphasizing, “it’s just bread and juice.” I didn’t know what the elements were at that point, but I knew enough to know that his insistence denied something sacred. A woman faculty member at the Divinity School, meanwhile, encouraged me to be intentional about deciding whether or not to pursue church leadership. Of course, pursuing church leadership would mean leaving my church for good. As I prayed, complex pieces fell into place, and I was warmly welcomed into membership of the United Methodist Church. The UMC welcomes complexity in reading scripture. It embraces women in leadership. More importantly, I found a home that challenges me to see my faith as socially responsible, and not simply as a personal experience.
I joined Fair Grove UMC in Reidsville, North Carolina, where I served as an intern at the time. Fair Grove is a very small loving and supportive congregation, located in a rural area. Shortly after joining Fair Grove, I began an internship in Cape Town, South Africa, at Central Methodist Mission. The context and the preaching at the church opened my eyes as to the potential of the Gospel to speak to people who are marginalized in society. Being there shaped my understanding of what it means to follow Jesus, and not just believe in Jesus. Also, my preaching personality was molded at CMM.
Currently I am a candidate for ordination as Elder in the UMC, Western NC Conference, and I am a lay preacher in Cape Town. I still attend Central Methodist Mission.