“What’s the coolest thing about your church?”
The minister asking the question doesn’t know Plymouth. Where was I to start?
I could talk about our history. Tourists hang on the fence to hear the stories of Henry Ward Beecher ignoring threats to fight slavery, church members breaking the law to be part of the Underground Railroad, and Branch Rickey praying in the minister’s study until he decided to offer Jackie Robinson a contract. We have a great story.
I could talk about the friendships we share. In many churches, the building is empty ten minutes after the postlude. At Plymouth, the fellowship hall is crowded thirty minutes after worship, and it isn’t because we want Oreos for lunch. Fellowship hour is loud and happy. The conversations sound like they are about faith, politics, and family, but the real subject is our love for one another.
I could talk about our ministries. When I asked a guest at the overnight shelter which church was the best to visit, he said, “Yours, of course.” Our support of anti-trafficking continues our commitment to proclaim as Jesus said, “release to the captives.” We participate in creative hunger initiatives like Brooklyn Delivers.
I could talk about Plymouth Church School. Walking up the stairs takes longer when you are behind a line of three-year-olds, but singing with them is fun. I could talk about the delightful confirmation class Carol and I are getting to lead. I could talk about our church staff, whose dedication to Plymouth is inspiring. I could talk about our thoughtful, inclusive, and welcoming theology. If asked the coolest thing about our church, we have lots of answers from which to choose.
One of the many reasons I love Plymouth is clear every Sunday morning. When worship begins, people in our sanctuary expect something sacred to happen. Plymouth sings joyfully, prays honestly, and thinks deeply. We expect to be challenged. People in our church give themselves to God each Sunday.
The best thing Plymouth has going for it—that for which we should be most grateful—is the presence of God. Though most of the time we don’t see it, a goodness bigger than we are has pulled us this far, and made this church holy and wonderful.
This sound odd, but God is what’s coolest about our church. God makes this place and these people home. God is here when we help one another and when we help people we don’t even know. Plymouth is more than the sum total of what we can see, because God is with us.