Senior Pastor

Josephine McElveen


about 20

Warm Handshakes

at least 6

Sample Worshipper Dress

dark suit and tie, solid-blue dashiki

Service Length

2 hours

Congregational Fervor

At the second service on a recent Sunday, children sang “Lord, We Lift Your Name on High” in varying degrees of pitch and sincerity. Service leader Peter McPhun accompanied them on an acoustic guitar, though not necessarily with the right chords. And despite songleader Sister Blessing’s efforts at conducting, congregants swayed irregularly to the tune.

Food for the Soul

McPhun gave a thoughtful, aimless talk about proselytizing to the sinful world. “See, God is seeking out someone—some little boy in your middle school, some girl in your high school, someone on the job,” he said. “He is seeking for someone to stand in the gap.” The youth response: One boy in the second row told his fidgety young neighbor, “Don’t touch me.”

Food for the Body

No food was available after the afternoon service, but a meal clearly was eaten before it; boxes of leftovers sat in a dining room, inscribed with congregation members’ names.

Overall Worship Power

If McPhun failed to rouse the church from its postprandial stupor, he still got his message across. After hearing for two hours about how to hook visitors, some were anxious for practice and targeted a visiting reporter. One man ran in and out of the sanctuary in a flurry to compile the right brochures. A boy yelled, “Welcome to the church!” while another followed the reporter to the end of the block, making sure he did not need a ride.

—Jonathan York