As part of the 2016 spring break mission trip, PCM students worshipped with Mercy Church, a church for the materially poor and homeless in midtown Atlanta. This congregation practices radical hospitality and abundant love for all who walk through the doors. Junior Courtney Trutna (P’17) shares her reflection on worshipping with them.
What was something surprising you saw in Atlanta?
Mercy Church. What a place. What a rag-tag room. What a statement— “I’m feeling sick, but well, I never miss church, not since coming to Atlanta.” A place where there is no hesitation of welcome, no batting of eyes when a man rolls up halfway through service and repacks a bag while we sing and sells a cigarette during the sermon but I guess he’s here and that’s enough.
I’ve seen welcoming congregations— this was different. This was truly come as you are, sick or well, clean or dirty, just come.
And yes, it was run by a white pastor and white interns who probably all have homes, but there was still some sense of congregation, I guess, of a right to worship. There was still the Lord’s Prayer said by all, and again in Spanish. There were no pews, but there was undeniably God.
They began worship with remembering your baptism by pouring the water from up high, such that it splashed out on the floor and I felt the need to grab a mop, but there was something real and needed about grace overflowing and an acceptance of a bit of chaos and an acknowledgment that drums made from packaging table and empty coffee containers are drums enough, and that broken guitar strings don’t stop worship and partially rusting shopping carts are perfectly good transporters of supplies because neither we nor worship has to be polished or perfect to be pleasing to God. And yes there are problems, but first there is love.