I had my third visit to Durham Presbyterian Church today. What a wonderful place! I've never experienced anything like it.
While the church looks traditional from the outside with its white columns and steeple, the inside is anything but traditional. The pews have been removed, replaced with comfortable, upholstered chairs that can be moved around. There is no alter, pulpit, or baptismal font. Elegant, modern wall hangings with Christian symbols grace several windows.
There is no choir loft or choir. However, a gifted musician, Angie, leads the congregation in songs of praise. Her beautiful voice resonates above everyone else as she accompanies herself on an electric piano. Some of the songs are traditional, like "Blessed Assurance," (my mother's favorite hymn), while others are drawn from more modern sources. Rather than hymnals, the congregation usually sings from words that are projected on the wall, an innovative and delightful departure from holding a hymnal.
Visitors to the church never meet a stranger. The friendly, welcoming atmosphere of this church keeps me coming back.
After church this morning, Stephen and I shared what we like best about Durham Presbyterian. For example, the way that prayers for the people are handled is very special. Amanda, Ace, or Franklin, write down prayer requests from the congregation, then offers them up with the refrain, "Lord, hear our prayer." Sensing the openness and trust in this part of the service moved me to tears. We could definitely feel the Holy Spirit moving at Durham Presbyterian this morning. Stephen and I agreed that one of the most special qualities of the place is that there is no where to hide. Such openness allows us to witness the hurt and suffering of our fellows. This is very touching and poignant.
I wrote down the names this morning of people to pray for, and will pray for them during the week. I feel that this church has set a new standard for out-reach with this loving tradition of recording prayers. It it so much more personal than hearing names called out from the back of the congregation.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this church are all the children. Little Davis Golden came up to the front and hugged his dad during the call to worship this morning. And Amanda held her baby while giving the benediction at the close of the service.
I hope this church will grow and prosper and become a major force in the spiritual life of Durham.