On Sunday I attended service at Christ Community Church of Philadelphia in order to be there for Kia’s Cakes’ fundraiser for The King’s Jubilee. I didn’t know what to expect. Sean and Zakkiyah McKelven had not invited me to the church. I just thought it would be a nice thing to do. I needed to be somewhere since I am not welcome at my home parish. I also was hoping to run into some old friends that may have heard about the sale. The sale was supposed to start at 11:00am according to Facebook. I did not know what time church started. As usual, there was an event on the Parkway, so I had to detour around it. I arrived at the church, which is near U Penn’s campus, at 9:30. Service starts at 10. There were already about 20 people there. Somebody was at the curb to tell me where I could park. The sound people were setting up. Several people greeted me and introduced themselves. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The building was immaculate. It looks like it was built in the early 20th century. It has high, vaulted ceilings. The plaster and the paint and the woodwork are all beautifully maintained or restored. There is stained glass and the original, oak pews, arranged wider, amphitheater style, with five aisles. There’s a balcony all along the back. There is a large, plain wooden cross on the platform with a colorful, purple cloth draped on it. This is behind a small communion table. In front of this, is a four pedestal pulpit. The people here obviously take pride in this place and give it their best to the glory of God.
The place slowly filled up. The service started with a short praise song. Then the pastor led us in an exercise of self examination and confession. I have to say, it was quite interesting and moving. It reminded me of the group confession that Bethann and I had participated in at St. John Chrysostom Albanian Orthodox Church a few years ago, except this had louder music. There were more praise songs and prayer. The pastor prophesied over one man; that is, he basically counseled him very publicly, then some more, privately. He then invited people to come forward for healing. The healing line took almost an hour. I believe there were two or three assistants who helped him with the anointing and prayer, and others who helped move people along. The worship team and congregation kept singing. The band kept playing. It has been many years since I have been in a Pentecostal service. I kept praying the prayer to the Holy Spirit and the Trisagion. The pastor said he had come prepared to preach, but the Holy Spirit had given different direction starting in the pastoral staff meeting before the service. He just took a couple of minutes to assure all of us that God loves us. He exhorted everyone who had turned away from sins or made commitments to a better direction to follow through and don’t give in to the devil or laziness. He again encouraged us all in God’s amazing love!
It was a healthy experience. It was nice to be in a place where I did not have to worry about the pastor being distracted and disturbed by whether I had my hands in my pockets or not. It was the most genuinely friendly church I have ever been to. I was greeted by over 50 people by the time I left, even though no one had pointed me out as anyone special. It was nice to see such a large, predominantly African-American church with so many men in it and what appeared to be a good number of intact families. If we want to stop the advance of Islam into our cities, we need more churches with this kind of spirit and community.
The church sponsors a ministry that provides personal care kits to the men on the street. When they have enough for everyone, they join us on a Thursday night and distribute them. Sean and Zakkiyah McKelven started this ministry over 11 years ago, by faith. They decided to hold bake sales to raise funds for The King’s Jubilee, because they knew that I have been going through a rough patch. They raised $510 and some loose change. When they gave me the bag of cash, they told me they determined to do this, because I had done this for them when they were in a tight spot when they were starting out. I don’t remember that. Of course, none of it is my money. I can only pass on what you all give. So God bless whoever gave The King’s Jubilee some money 10 or 11 years ago to help this wonderful couple grow this fruitful ministry!
Thank you Zakkiyah & Sean. May God continue to abundantly bless you as you serve Him in the least of these his brethren.