St. Albans Congregational United Church of Christ Recap
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Today I preached at both the 8 AM and 11 Am worship service at the St. Albans Congregational United Church of Christ in Queens, New York. I also signed books after both worship services in the Family Life Center of the Church. Rev. Dr. Henry Simmons is the pastor of the church. He and I have known each other for over 40 years. I met Henry when I was a fourth year college student. He was a new, young assistant minister at the Peoples Congregational UCC in Washington, DC. I was a youth worker with the Junior High Youth Ministry at the Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit, where I serve currently as pastor. We have been colleagues and friends in the ministry ever since.
It made me feel really good to preach at St. Albans. The congregation reminds me a lot of the members of my church in Detroit. The people were warm. The music was spirited and I felt right at home. Before I began to preach, after introductory remarks, I played a little on the harmonica and led the congregation in song. It was a tremendous day in the house of God. Some of my friends from Detroit who live in New York made the trip to Queens to worship with me. My cousin, Sheila Anderson, who is a New York disc jockey on a local jazz station also showed up. The Detroit people included: Dr. Victoria Pinderhuges; Greg Routt, Janet and Aaron Talbert. Another cousin on my wife’s side of the family, Anika Penn, came from Brooklyn. Clinton Griffin, the chair of my Deacon Board in Detroit helped me to drive to New York. His daughter, Mackenzie, has just taken a job in Brooklyn. He and she also worshiped at with me at St. Albans.
I am in the midst of a national tour with my book, “The Test, The Strength, The Endurance and the Way Out.” I must confess that the greatest surprise for me is that I started out thinking I would simply promote the book. What I did not count on is that this is much more than a book tour – it is a friendship tour. Most of the churches I have visited, preached at, sold and signed books, have been pastored by ministers who have been my friends and colleagues for forty or more years. The tour began last fall at the First Congregational UCC in Atlanta. The pastor of that church is Dwight Andrews. He and I have known each other since we were ten years of age. The second church in the tour was in Daytona Beach. The pastor of that church is John Long. I ordained and married John Long to his wife, Maria. In Miami, Joaquim Willis is the pastor of the Church of the Open Door. He and I met as youth workers during the same trip I met Rev. Simmons and have been friends since. The churches I visited in northern California are pastored by people I do not know as well or as long, but they were also very receptive. My son, Nathan, made introductions for me at his church in Berkley. Karen Routt, a lifelong friend from my church in Detroit helped to set up a tour for me at her church in Palo Alto. Nathan, Karen and Leslie Taylor, who I also ordained, helped to make arrangements for me to preach at the City of Refuge in Oakland.
My point is that I would not be doing as well without friends and family. I have been thanking God several times a day this entire weekend and especially today during worship for friends and family. Clinton and I will return to Detroit tomorrow, but this by far has been a tremendous reception and affirmation of my ministry. I should add that one of the high points for me today was during Rev. Simmons introduction of me. Near the end he mentioned that I am the author of the African American Passover Celebration, which St. Albans has incorporated as a Maundy Thursday worship liturgy. At the 8 AM worship service many people burst into spontaneous applause and some stood up. I have never felt more fulfilled and gratified then at that moment, because that is when it dawned on me that my written work is starting to precede me.
So, I thank God for today and pray for traveling mercies tomorrow.
Written by the Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photos by Clinton Griffin
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/