Sunday, October 31, 2010
eleventh visit: Oct 24th 2010 Non-denominational Christian (Methodist and Presbyterian supported)
Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community
2700 Jane Street, Pittsburgh PA 15203
I realize it is far time for gatherings to venture to the south side. Where to? I come across the name of this congregation... no further effort in decision required. For those who don't know Pittsburgh, the Hot Metal Bridge is an honest-real bridge, and it's always been my favorite of Pgh's 29 that cross the 3 rivers simply because of its name. Can you think of a better? I emailed HMBFC, and minutes later Mike Holohan shot back: an invitation and expression of support for gatherings. Thank you.
Days leading up, I was looking forward to experiencing worship with HMBFC in a way that admittedly is not always the case as I pursue this project. I read somewhere that before securing their current location (a remarkably restored space that was once a corner bar) the group regularly met in a Goodwill for a period of time, and their Bible study in a operating tattoo parlor. Attire is casual. (Thankfully a sweet young woman complimented my garb as I went in, so I did not feel so over-dressed as I might otherwise have.) Also, this is an establishment that walks the talk: a homeless ministry team pounds pavement, providing food and conversation to those without. There's a "live and let live" approach even to traditional Christian ritual: "If you don't feel like taking communion this week, then let yourself take time off from it."
HMBFC, supported by the Presbyterian Church and United Methodist Church, is comfortable with the term "non-denominational" and led by Pastors Jim Walker and Jeff Eddings, assisted by Mike Holohan. Personalities are as colorful as the tattoos gracing their arms. Apparently messages are often offered through drama and other arts, though not specifically this Sunday.
This is not necessarily your grandmother's worship-place. Refreshing. (But if she did show up, she'd be well received.) I can only sense that the life experiences of some (not all, but some) of these young adults are REAL—I would guess not always roses and teacups of cherries. Which is why I really liked being there, surrounded by the sincerity of life.
Until this point in my project, I had been wondering about the relationship of youngest adults of this city (say 18-29 year-olds) and religion. I had not been seeing a huge number from this age-group. Answers to my wondering found here. It is clear from HMBFC's website that Pastors Jim and Jeff are passionate about offering community in way I'd not yet witnessed, and offering it to those who really have had perhaps a tougher time at it, as well as to those who have abundance to share... and this is the age-group that is jumping on board. Talk of spelunking trips and wilderness retreats, no less. A hot meal is served to all in attendance following every 11:30am weekly service. And as far as I can tell, it's succeeding. These worshipers seem to be driven to attend in order to be together. True spirit is felt.