The Well Magazine Winter 2012 - Page 33

Taking Church to Catfish Corner By John W. Fountain utside Catfish Corner one warm summer night, blues music from a live band spilled into the glowing night air from the makeshift wooden stage on a parking lot outside Wallace’s Catfish Corner restaurant on Chicago’s West Side. People holding cups of spirits, sang and danced as members of the New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church set out on an impromptu mission beyond their church’s walls. Moments earlier, the Gospel caravan was bound further west as part of their ministry to prostitutes. Their aim: Not to beat these wayward sisters over the head with the bible—but to let them know they are loved, to give a care package, to touch them in soul and spirit, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I was tagging along as a writer/observer a few years ago, seeking to chronicle the effectiveness of the church to help heal community—to be “the church”. As we neared the stroll, a police squad approached the church van and an officer told the pastor that police were doing a sting. He asked if the good reverend and his well-meaning church folks would not minister there tonight. Respectfully, Rev. Marshall Hatch agreed and drove away. But just a few blocks west while passing Catfish Corner, he got the unction to park and share the Gospel. Within minutes, pockets of the church’s members stood praying, or immersed in conversation with people attending the blues fest. Then suddenly a familiar voice crackled over a loudspeaker. It was Rev. Hatch who somehow had convinced somebody to give him the mic—someone apparently unaware that unless you want a sermon, you never give a preacher the mic. The blues fest took on the air of an old-time revival as the musicians began playing old hymns and people flocked to the front of the stage for prayer, tearful and lifting up their hands. That night a few things became clear to me. That the church of 33 Wallace’s Catfish Corner, a Chicago restaurant that features outdoor blues music in the summer, was the site of an impromptu prayer service years ago. John W. Fountain writes about it in this column that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on June 22, 2011. O Jesus Christ is ever powerful, transformative and prevailing if and when it moves beyond the temples of brick and mortar that separates the churched from the un-churched; and that amid social dysfunction, devastation and despair, there is a great need for the message of hope and salvation. Also clear was that far too many churches are immobilized by a culture of comfy-cozy, status quo “churchianity” preoccupied with perpetuating the “business of church” rather than the business of God embodied in the Great Commission, which calls followers of Christ to share the Gospel to all men. But in these times, evangelism has become an after-dinner drink, even ѡ՝ ɥЁɑЁѼѡ͔Mѽéɍͽ́q ɥ 5Ѽ ɍ䳊t͕ݕȁѼѡЁՅՕѥ܁ѼЁѡɍݡѡɕՕѥ́܁ѼЁQQѼ ɥи!܁Ёq ɥѡ ɍѼ5t]ЁЁɥЁȁȵѥ́ѽɕɽϊQ䁅ՉɉQѼѡщɕ́ȁչѥ́͡ɥɥ݅́ѡٔЁͼݥѠѡ͔ѡɕѥݥѡЁͭȁݥѡЁ٥ѥѡѼȁɍݥѡЁͭȁͥѡፕЁѡѼ͡܁ѡ ɥи$ٔ݅䁽ձѥѡѥٕ́Iظ!э́ݕ́ѡЁЁЁ љ͠ ɹȁȁݥݡѡȁ͕݅́ȁ!͔́͡Q́$ѕȁѡЁͽɅȰѡٕ́Ʌ͕ٕ役݅QѡЁ͕݅́ѕɹ()]ѕȀȀQ]5饹((0