New York, New York – Part Deux

The last few days have been incredible. Talk about a memorable Sabbath! Reading some of the Facebook comments of travelling Australian Pastors on their way to the General Conference, reminded me we really need to buckle down the hatches and blog our Ephesus SDA Church experience. If you come to New York, YOU HAVE TO COME TO EPHESUS SDA CHURCH. There is no other like it.

12th June 2010 was a fabulous day. We had no idea what we were in for when we hailed our yellow cab on 8th Avenue.  Firstly, Lester our Africa-American cab driver seemed like he was 87 years old but knew a lot about New York living. Once we had hit the end of Central Park, and which officially began the journey into Harlem, Lester very kindly gave us his hot tip for Harlem survival.

“If someone is following you, put your hand in your pocket as if you have a gun in there and spin around. It’s worked for me before! I scared off some kids and all I had in my pocket was my car keys!”

As I mentioned, there is no other like Ephesus. We jump out of Lester’s cab on the corner of Malcolm X Blvd and West 123 Street, and a suited guy with a kid in one hand and a nappy bag slung over his shoulder greets us with a massive smile, a hand-shake and, you guessed it, “Happy Sabbath!” This was the first of the 10,000 handshakes and “Happy Sabbath’s” we received yesterday. Before we had even walked up the steps of the church we received another 5-6 welcomes. This was impressive and every church should be like this one.  The most hospitable person in the church was a lady who sat in front of us who was about 75-80yrs old who welcomed us the moment we sat down behind her. She said to us moments later “Welcome again, this is your church, and will always be your church.” Incidentally, before she left at the end of the service, she said “So I’ll see you next week then?”

The church building is famous in Harlem. It dates back to the early 1900’s and was burnt down at some point. One of the ladies told me that all that is now left of the original building is the stained glass windows.  Richie said, even though the church burned down, the church is still on fire. Can I get an Amen?

150 people were in Senior Sabbath School, we couldn’t believe it. Plus, young people were teaching old people and it was real loud! All the women were wearing hats and gloves – real fancy and huge!

Church starts and Rhianna, complete with mohawk comes in and sits down next to Richie… well at least her look-a-like. The organ player is hard-core, about 30 years old and sporting a Mohawk and robes. The praise was out of this world. I think both heaven and earth were in one voice praising Our God.

The Pastor got up at 12:15pm and preached till 1pm. There were Amen’s and Halelujah’s every 5 seconds – Love it!

Then there was a special service out on the steps of the church to acknowledge and launch a HIV/AIDS project for Harlem.  This really showed us their love for the community.

As Richie says, if  this church fell off the face of the earth tomorrow, Harlem would know.

They truly are being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church. Red ribbons which are tied to the church gate, represent people either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS in Harlem.

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