It's a church. No. It's a middle school. Stop. You're both right.
(If you bump into anyone from Pathway Church in Wyoming, Michigan, please don't mention this post to them. Thanks. I try to miss them only as much as I can bear.)
I have a new church. Or, rather, maybe I should say a church now has me. Trinity Grace Brooklyn is part of what they call The City Parish — a network of neighborhood churches throughout New York City all coming together to join God in the renewal of all things.
I learned of this place through a friend of a friend before I moved. When I stepped off the airplane in August I had a short list of churches to visit. Trinity Grace was at the top of that list. I first dropped in a few weeks after I moved. I haven't bothered to visit any of the other churches on that list since. This faith community is alive and growing and moving and working and living. There is a vitality to the place and a sense of connection within it that is nearly palpable. Whether it's supporting the building of schools in Kenya, ministering to the darkest and neediest corners of the city, or simply taking me and my roommate in for Thanksgiving, it's clear to me God is on the move here. I had tears in my eyes not long after I walked in on that first Sunday.
I could tell you all about the passionate teachings and the great people I'm meeting. I could tell you about all the young couples and their adorable children. I could tell you the deeply moving stories of redemption and hope I've heard. I could tell you about how volunteers come in early to set up the auditorium for service and make coffee. I could tell you about believers new and mature alike learning together. But what I really want to do is show you a video of the teaching pastor and worship leader rocking out a cover of Don't Let Me Down by the Beatles.
The Sunday morning service meets at William Alexander Middle School in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Picture a 50's era public school, and you've got the right idea. Red brick exterior with masonry arches around the doorways. Speckled floors. Pale green paint. There's a farmers market that sets up shop on the sidewalk around the school every Sunday; I buy apples there pretty much every weekend.
There's also a playground and soccer fields across from the school. I like to imagine that matchbox cars travel in and out of the doors of William Alexander during the week, stuffed in pockets and rattling around in backpacks. I like that image because I feel like a matchbox car when I walk in the door to Trinity Grace on Sunday mornings. Matchbox cars aren't meant to sit still. They're meant to go. When you have the space you set up a track and run them in endless circuits, through loops, and over sweet jumps. To do that, you have to connect up the charging station. You see the charging station is essential. Motorized wheels pull the cars in at the end of a run and then fling those cars down the track all over again.
The key is laying down as much track as you can get away with so that the car has just enough to reach the charging station at the end of a run. Then those wheels grab hold of it and Sir Isaac Newton's laws have their way. After a week of classes and projects and exams and research grant proposals and meetings and presentations and learning new programming languages and relearning old math I have just enough to make it into Trinity Grace on Sunday morning. Then God's laws have their way, and I shoot out of there for another lap. Just two more days, and I've almost made it around the track one more time. Thank you God for Trinity Grace. Vroom.