All My Favorite People

The theme at You Are Here Stories for December is Hope & Place, and I could think of no more hopeful place for me than Friendship Community Presbyterian Church.

***

“Good morning, Friendship!”

“Good morning, Darryl!”

And so begins the weekly ritual of Friendship Community Church congregation members sharing praises and prayer requests, joys and concerns.

It is November 1995, and I have been attending this quirky inner-city, inter-racial Presbyterian church for a little more than a year. Tucked between the university community and Pittsburgh’s Hill District—made famous in the 1980s crime drama Hill Street Blues— it is a modest cinderblock building that more closely resembles a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall than the hundreds of Gothic, steepled church buildings that populate this post-industrial city.

The wooden pews are five deep along three of the four walls of the sanctuary; we are a congregation “in the round.” I glance at the faces of these men and women—young and old, black and white, rich and poor—who are becoming more familiar to me, week by week. This is very much not like the homogeneous all-white, suburban, formal, upper-middle-class Presbyterian congregations I grew up attending.

The prayer requests begin.

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