Finding Hope at Hope Park
In a previous post I expressed skepticism about whether the media would be as eager to cover our peace as they were to cover our conflict. I should have at least made an exception for News 2's Faith and Ethics journalist Jamey Tucker, who I've personally found to be sincere, understanding, and fair throughout his interest in our ordeal.
Here is an excerpt from Mr. Tucker's follow-up blog post after last weekend's services:
I attended worship services this morning at Bellevue Community Church. I didn't know what to expect, even after reading comments on this blog and others. I half-expected the church people to come together, united in a belief in Jesus Christ. But knowing people the way I do, and knowing how church people can be from time to time, I would not have been surprised to see more hurt feelings, anger and pride.
I received an e-mail Friday asking that the news media respect their privacy and not show up on the BCC campus. I understood their concerns, but frankly what happened last week was news and with so many people saying they would demand to be allowed to vote on the Elder's decision, it was going to be news today.
So before today I talked with church elder Richard McKinney who told me to come on out but they didn't want a tv camera to put people off and discourage them from worship. I couldn't have agreed more. TV cameras (even our small vj models) can be disconcerting and making people feel like they are "on", leads us to not be ourselves. You cannot worship, truly worship, if you're trying to BE anything.
I expected people to be put-off by seeing a tv truck pull into the parking lot. I wouldn't have been surprised if church members were rude to me. But almost immediately after getiting out of my marked SUV, I heard "Good morning" and "hello" and "How you doing?"
I went to the sanctuary without a camera first to gauge the attitude of worshippers. What I saw was encouraging. A nearly full sanctuary of people lifting their hands to the heavens, singing and praising God. I interviewed several people as they left the service and they all stated the same thing: "things are good", "Bellevue Community Church is fine" and "God is good, all the time".
I said in tonight's piece that there are people who would love to hear that human emotions, hurt feelings and pride were still tearing this church apart. There are people who would love to continue pointing at BCC to say "See, that's why I don't go to church."
But after seeing the depth of faith in the people who attend BCC, I'm happy to say "see, that's WHY I DO ATTEND CHURCH". That, despite my flaws and failings, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can find hope in the hopelessness. We can forgive those who trespass against us.
That is an outsider looking in. I'm thankful it confirms my own experience at the two services I attended, that my perception was not distorted by my hope.
BCC is proving its mettle right now. We are demonstrating our faithfulness, testifying to our dependence on Jesus, revealing the substance beneath our style. We are showing Nashville that calling our campus Hope Park is not just sloganeering.