Sunday, May 03, 2009

Two Things I OftenThink About

In San Francisco there are a few really bad neighborhoods. One is Bayview. Bayview has several congregations of the "Black Church" denominations, but is still plagued by crime, loitering, poverty (spiritual more than financial), public drunkeness, etc. Maybe, the black churches are too close to the culture to reach the people who lie drunk on the sidewalks. They have heard the message of the Black churches so often, presented in the same way so many times that it just rolls off of them. I'm not being racist. The same thing can be said about White pentecostal and baptist churches in the American South. Church is just part of the culture, not a life changing soul saving experience. So I wonder, could a group of Orthodox Christians in that neigborhood make a difference? If we just met in one of the abandoned houses or store fronts for two hours a week, put up fliers offering "life transforming encounters with God", set up some icons, prayed vespers - if we did that would any of those angry, suffering, poor, people walk in the door? Would they be saved?

The other neighborhood I think of is the Lower Filmore. There is an abandoned church building - with the door on the west and the altar at the east, the way Orthodox Churches are oriented -right on the main street of the neighborhood. The building is fenced in and boarded up. But is is well-made, and after years of neglect is still beautiful. It is across the street from a notorious housing project. I often wonder, would the trustees of that church let the Orthodox have it to start a mission to the people in that spiritually suffering neighborhood?

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