Friday, January 27, 2006

White Guy Experiences Preaching at African-American Church

I am, of course, the "white guy" mentioned in the title of this post.

Last Sunday, while in Southern California attending several denominational events, I preached at Angeles Mesa Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.

Pastor Timm Cyrus and I have been friends for nearly 20 years. He preached at my Mililani church when the Presbytery of the Pacific met in Honolulu two years ago so now it was my turn to preach at Angeles Mesa. The church is African-American and thrives on emotion and enthusiasm centered around the saving Lordship of Jesus. I had never preached in such a venue before but had attended and experienced such worship on many occasions.

I took a sermon I had recently preached in Mililani and added an introduction and expanded a section in the middle but left it more or less the same otherwise. I preached for 40 minutes (a luxury and a departure from my usual 20 minute message) but did not expect the response I received.

The vocal support from the congregation was far more than I had anticipated. At one point I had to pause and wait for the enthusiasm to subside before I could continue. By the time I approached the end of the sermon more than a few in the congregations were actually standing on their feet praising God and encouraging me on with my message. (Note: This is not a pentecostal church!)

What a wonderful experience to have the power of the Holy Spirit pour out of the pulpit only to have it returned in full by the response of the congregation. That is so different from the usual Sunday morning where the power of the Holy Spirit flows from the pulpit only to seemingly disappear into thin air and silence.

In any case, I found my ministry and preaching to be wonderfully affirmed and I flew home that evening feeling strangely uplifted and encouraged.

I can assure you that there are no "frozen chosen" at Angeles Mesa. But there are plenty of "chosen!" I praise God for Timm's wonderful ministry and for the warm welcome I received from the members of his congregation.

P.S. They have one of the best small gospel choirs in Southern California. Awesome! Worship is at 10:00 am.