This morning, I returned to All Saints Anglican, at Dundas and Sherbourne. The full name of this church is actually All Saints Church and Community Centre. I don't know if I've written fully about this before, but the building for All Saints is gorgeous. It's made of red and yellow brick, which was very popular in Toronto in the 1900's. Inside, it's full of stained glass and regal looking painted trims and motifs.
But there are no pews.
The pews have been removed, because during the week, the entire sanctuary of the church is full of desks and book shelves and everything else needed to run a centre for community outreach. Through countless programs, staff and volunteers strive to meet the needs of those in the downtown core - people suffering from poverty, homelessness, addiction, abuse, and loneliness.
And on Sundays, a space is cleared. An altar is pulled out onto the floor and candles are lit. Two rows of chairs are pulled around the front of the altar. And a small group of people - Christians, just like you and I - assemble to worship their Lord and Savior. The don't have a praise band or a powerpoint screen or a new grand piano. They actually don't have much of anything that the rest of us consider so essential for worship. They just have their hearts, their voices, and their honesty... and they have all of that in abundance.
When I visit All Saints, I sing a little during communion and then do a few solos. When I read the scriptures for the day, I realized "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" would be a perfect fit. I worked up a little arrangement, and as I sang, people started to sing along, which was lovely. Later, I did my arrangement of "Jesus Loves Me", which just always feels so good to sing.
I continue to be impressed by the depth and sincerity of the faith I see in all the churches I visit, but I am never more impressed than when I am at All Saints.