Under an unseasonably warm January sun, the prayer response “Lord, Hear our Prayer,” echoed among a diverse group of people. Names were spoken, known only to those who called them out–“Lord, Hear our Prayer,” A man suffering with addiction asked for strength–“Lord, Hear our Prayer,”. A group of people who may not have found themselves together in any other social circumstance (Black, White, Hispanic, Native, Homeless, Wealthy, and Marginalized) united together in prayer, lunch, song, worship, conversation, communion, and community–“Lord, Hear our Prayer”
A man named Freddie read scripture. Although nervous behind a microphone, Freddie eloquently talked about the importance of home. As he looked into the eyes of the congregation, he said that this is the beginning of home, a place where people of all backgrounds come together to worship God.
After the service, Michael shared the difficulty he has had in finding a church–his journey of looking for a place he could consider home.
Karen Navarro, Client Advocate at St Martin’s Hospitality Center, noted the comfortable feel of Community of Hope. She talked about how people sat together around café style tables and shared lunch and worshiped God in what Karen described as “a gathering”.
Unlike many ministries that worship first and serve food after, Community of Hope shared a lunch first and then taught the word of God. Approximately 150 people shared a meal of chili, bread, and fruit. Nearly half of them stayed to worship around the open able of communion.
However, perhaps the greatest moment came after the last amen was spoken. While most church services end with a sudden exit of the congregation, the people of Community of Hope remained for a half hour after the service ended. People who had little in common before the service, continued conversation after worship. The seeds of genuine community have been sown.