Moments before Sunday worship begins, Pastor Amy Butler and members of the Calvary Baptist Church choir gather in a small annex next to the sanctuary. Butler leads the group in a short prayer, then issues a warning.
“I’m really reaching this morning, preaching that Jezebel is wise,” she says with a grin. “So keep your facial expressions under control.”
Everyone laughs. In truth, it takes more than that to upset the congregation of Calvary Baptist, in the heart of the nation’s capital city.
The congregation’s willingness to embrace the unexpected goes a long way toward explaining how a church once on the brink is now a thriving community asset. “If you want to be a Christian, you better get ready for life to be hard. This is not ‘Put on your pretty hat and go to church.’ Jesus Christ did some really hard things. Love your enemy? What could that mean in D.C. in 2009?” Butler said of her congregation. “What would Jesus expect us to do when feeling threatened or uncomfortable? Love God, love your neighbor. That’s what we’re doing here. That’s the essence of gospel.”
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Comment. Maybe a ‘new’ kind of Baptist is indeed necessary. The ‘old’ kind does not seem to work anymore; at least not as it used to.