The lovely Robin, our daughter Aubrey, and I were in Atlanta this past weekend for a family wedding. While driving around the area, I noticed an impressive church right off I-75 at the W. Paces Ferry exit. I thought at first glance it had to be a Roman Catholic Church, judging from the size and style of the edifice. I searched on my iPhone and discovered it is the Church of the Apostles, an evangelical Anglican church.
So, after dropping off loved ones at the Atlanta airport early Sunday morning, I dropped into a Starbucks for an hour before heading to the Church of the Apostles (right around the corner from Starbucks, which indicates to me the loving providence of God) for the 9 a.m. worship service, the first of two the church offers.
It was super easy to find the church--you almost can't miss it from any vantage point in the area. And it was also easy to park in the church's multi-story parking garage, attached to the church building by covered walkways.
I entered and was greeted warmly, not only by a security officer and a woman at the welcome counter, but by numerous people as they walked past. It's in the South, I know, but still it was lovely to be smiled at and greeted so frequently.
I had a few minutes to wander around, so I did. I entered the main sanctuary, which was largely empty (it is used for the 10:30 a.m. service, but not for the 9 a.m.). It seats thousands. And, in striking contrast to many of the big-black-box churches of more contemporary design, the interior is beautifully appointed in every detail: wood panelling, quality furniture, just beautiful.
The stained windows and walls throughout the church are likewise beautiful, with many original artworks, such as a series of eleven panels by sculptor Alice Proctor, telling the story of Moses. This is the panel of the pillar of fire and cloud which led the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings.
With the help of a greeter, I made my way to the Ayoub Memorial Chapel, where the 9 a.m. service is held (while numerous classes for all ages are going on throughout the church).
I found my seat a few minutes early. At exactly 8:55 the worship band began playing--a cool jazz rendition of "Ain't No Rock." I thought, I'm home! I think I smiled through the whole thing (I have long wondered why more churches don't employ jazz, a musical style that in its various forms appeals to many different ages and personalities).
Then vocalists joined the worship band (above), the congregation stood, and we were led in a fine rendition of "Humble King," which led me into tearful worship, and "He is Lord," sung in the second person ("You are Lord").
After a short worship block, pastoral prayer, offering, and a vocal selection of "We Shall Behold Him," founding pastor Dr. Michael Youssef rose to speak. He gave a fine message on "The End of History & You" from 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12. A song followed, and a blessing, and I headed back to the hotel minutes after 10 a.m.
It was a wonderful worship experience, the most blessed (apart from being led in worship regularly by my own son) I've had in a long time. I loved every minute of it, and hope to worship there any time I am in the Atlanta area. You should, too.