- Rev. Charles Perry
Give God a Second Chance
Every Sunday afternoon, I go over to the Beloved Community Church building, unload my boxes of church from my car, and begin the process of setting up for the next meeting of the Magic City Spiritual Community. It’s a stark contrast to my time at Unity of Birmingham – there’s no Sunday school meeting or band rehearsing. I open the door and race to the burglar alarm to make sure I don’t set it off by accident. The morning church normally doesn’t set it when they leave, knowing we’re right behind them, but one never knows.
While I’m setting up the A/V equipment and the podium, my wife and partner in tilting at windmills, Laura, will often be rehearsing on the piano, or setting out supplies for the kids. (She is both Youth Director and Music Director, as well as Webmaster and Social Media Maven.) Usually, one or two of our most devoted members will show up and begin making coffee and water for tea. And as we get closer to 1:30, I wait.
I wait to see how many of our micro-church are up to making it out today. We have a few whose health is challenging, and I pray for them as I always do. We have some young families; a couple with single moms and I know from my time as a single dad with custody how tough it can be to get the whole tribe rolling on a Sunday. And every time they make it through the front door of the multi-purpose room at Beloved where we hold our services, it gladdens my heart.
I am deeply, profoundly grateful for the brave and beautiful souls who have cast their spiritual lot with Magic City Spiritual Community. We are dedicated to do something that is difficult anywhere, and sometimes feels Quixotic here in the buckle of the Bible Belt. We are dedicated to transforming lives by practicing love, seeking truth, and demanding justice – three things that have been unpopular at best and deadly dangerous at times here in Birmingham, AL. We challenge the traditional interpretation of Christianity, as we challenge the injustices the privileged exercise over the marginalized. We are a small group now, but we have huge hearts. And there is still room at our table.
Whether you are someone who left my former church, or who left YOUR former church because you felt abused, betrayed, or broken by the institution of the church, I just want to say this: God loves you, and so do I. If you never darken the doorstep of a church again as long as you live, still, you are a sacred being, a beloved child of God, no matter who you are, where you have been, or what you have been through, or done, or what was done to you. But if you still want to give being in spiritual community a chance, we are here for you. With grace and love and faith and patience, we are building something special together. It may not look like the church you were used to, but maybe that’s a good thing. And maybe, in spite of all the pain we all have felt, it has all been for the best.