“Derek Goes to Church” Episode 4: worshipping in the heart of the city

– First Presbyterian Church from the corner of Morgan and Salisbury

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another….

Hebrews 10:23-25
parking on the roof!

Here we are with the latest edition of the “Derek goes to church” series, following Derek and Rebekah’s adventures as we visit different congregations around Raleigh. The first four weeks have been:

  1. Derek Goes to Church in the car
  2. Derek Goes to Church with Governor Cooper
  3. Derek Goes to Church at St. Andrews
  4. Derek Goes to Church in the city

That’s right, this week – with Rebekah attending Central Presbyterian Church in Miami, with Naomi and the grandchildren – I went to worship at the historic First Presbyterian Church in downtown Raleigh.

Multi-story parking? Check. Park on the roof? Don’t you know it! Enjoy the downtown cityscape? Absolutely. Miss the life-charged atmosphere at WFPC? To the core of my being.

It was good to be with the faith community. But this week I especially missed the natural buoyancy and can’t-miss light and life that are always the hallmark of Rebekah’s approach to leading worship. I missed the bubbling over with enthusiasm; I missed the preacher working the room before worship begins, greeting and hugging and welcoming visitors all over the sanctuary.

Smiling Behind the Masks:
– in the sanctuary at 1st Pres.

With Covid running rampant once again, I understand how disappointing it is for everyone when we have to scale back; especially having for a brief time come so close to a return to normalcy.

So I am always pleased to see the leadership of the Presbyterian Church when it comes to faithful witness. Being a good neighbor means caring by voice and by example; it means wearing a mask even if we are vaccinated; it means hearing God’s calling to put others ahead of ourselves; it means making sacrifices of convenience for the greater good.

Regardless of masks, and distancing, and muted hymn singing, it is always good to be in church.

I almost didn’t come in:
– it’s 10:50 and there’s no sign anything is happening inside!

Being alone (with Rebekah in Florida) is not the easiest experience. So kudos to the guy – I think his name was Boyd – who sat on my row and went out of the way to greet me afterwards.

But I almost didn’t come in. Those heavy outside doors are not so easy to navigate – especially if you are there for the first time! They were all closed, there was nobody holding a door open, and nothing about the front of the church said, “Come on in!”

Next Week:

I am still not sure where we will land when it’s time for me to join a congregation. So keep your eyes open, local Presbyterian churches, Rebekah and I will likely slip in quietly one Sunday (chances are several thousand people will read about our experience the next day!).

Thanks, First Presbyterian, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, and White Memorial – we are grateful for your witness to the Good News! – DEREK

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple. – Psalm 27:4


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