From the time I made the decision to spend part of the sabbatical in the London area, I’ve wanted to visit Holy Trinity Brompton church.
This Anglican church birthed the ALPHA program, a way to explore the Christian faith in a safe and open atmosphere.
I noted that the church now worships at three locations and one, Queens Gate, offered a 12:30 p.m. Thursday Holy Communion service.
The website directions were extremely confusing. It took multiple requests for help, plus a desperate look at my iPhone to find it, located next to a bombed-out site — a relic of World War II — but in a high-end neighborhood.
Nonetheless, I walked in early and was immediately warmly greeted and given discrete directions to the restroom facilities.
The church’s main room was set for about 250, but could easily hold 600. I sat near the front in a wooden, uncushioned, uncomfortable chair on a scarred wooden floor. The church had been built in the mid-1800s and designed by William Butterfield, a well-known Gothic Revival architect. It seemed worn down, dirty, unpolished, uncared for.
Twelve were in attendance as the service began.
The printed order of service offered a modern liturgy with two songs, words given in a separate sheet, no hymnals, no screens.
The curate, a woman in her 40s with bright red stripes in her hair, welcomed us and suggested people move closer as there was no amplification available.
I was not feeling good about this.
Then she led the way into the kingdom of heaven. Fifty were in attendance by then and with wonderful acoustics, the 50 voices sounded like a good choir as we acknowledged the faithfulness of God in “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
The curate offered a simple but eloquent message about a breakfast she attended with brother Yun, a former prisoner in China who was arrested for being a Christian and leading many to Christ. He has a miraculous story of escape that has captivated many.
As I listened, I found my soul both quieted and comforted with the knowledge that God will indeed bring about the work of redeeming the world.
After the message, we heard the invitation to come forward to receive the sacrament.
Afterward, the curate announced that although the service was over, some might want to stay for prayer. There was no hurry. We were to take as long as we needed.
The pianist began to play, and I sat there, unable and unwilling to move. A few went to the kneeling rails. One woman began to dance and to practice the art of adoration.
Many, including me, began to weep quietly, as we received peace, the peace that passes all understanding. I have no idea how long I sat there, nor did I care. I had no wish to leave.
When I finally made my way to the simple lunch, I spoke with the curate.
She said they are dealing with a sadly neglected structure (that was pretty obvious) and they had just discovered an infestation of mice, along with a leaky roof. I asked how the repairs are funded and she said, “The generosity of the congregation. We do not teach tithing — that would be too small an amount for many. We just present the needs and ask people to give as they feel God would have them do so.”
She also said that when Holy Trinity Brompton merged with this church, there were eight faithful attendees.
Today, there are about 450 in two thriving services, one Anglo-Catholic, one low-church evangelical.
I noticed a bunch of scarred wooden tables pushed up against the walls, and she said that they had set up for a luncheon for 300 yesterday. They also feed the homeless a hot meal each evening and bed them down for the night in this same space.
I said, “Something is unusual about this space.”
Her response, “Yes, the Holy Spirit is upon us.”
Yes, it is.
THE REV. CHRISTY THOMAS is the pastor of First United Methodist Church of Krum. Reach her by calling 940-482-3482 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .