Outdoor Church of Cambridge Holds Easter Service for the Homeless

From this portable “pulpit,” the Rev. Thomas Hathaway of the Outdoor Church of Cambridge offered an Easter message in porter Square to a congregation of those who may be less comfortable in a traditional setting. (PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF)
From this portable “pulpit,” the Rev. Thomas Hathaway of the Outdoor Church of Cambridge offered an Easter message in porter Square to a congregation of those who may be less comfortable in a traditional setting. (PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF)

On a concrete plaza in Porter Square on Easter morning, the Rev. Thomas Hathaway talked about how frantic Jesus’ disciples became when they arrived at the cave where he had been buried and found that the body was missing, not yet aware of his resurrection.

People today can live with the same frantic energy, Hathaway said to his congregation of homeless men and women, whose lives on the streets or in shelters are often marked by instability.

The Outdoor Church of Cambridge is in the city every week, ministering to people who may not feel comfortable in more traditional churches, said the Rev. Jedediah Mannis, who cofounded the church.

“Being outdoors is a chaotic life, and we try hard to keep it calm, predictable,” Mannis said. “People have made it their church, and they have a proprietary feeling about it.”

The status of Easter as a major Christian holiday, one that typically fills church services, is not particularly important in this church, Mannis said.

“I think what matters to our congregation is the fact that we’re here, that there is a community that they’re a part of,” Mannis said.

On the “pulpit,” a small metal cart on wheels, were laminated prayer sheets, coffee and doughnuts, and a glass cross inscribed with the words “Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.”

About a dozen congregants and volunteers sat or leaned against the concrete plaza ledge. Others stood and shared their thoughts about the resurrection of Christ.

Every Sunday at 9 a.m., the Outdoor Church holds a nondenominational service outside the Porter Square T Station, or inside the station if it’s raining or especially cold. Instead of a formal sermon from the pulpit, people talk about their thoughts on the day’s Bible passage, as well as problems they’ve had during the week.

They pray for other people on the streets, for family members who have died. They take communion — bread and thimble-sized glasses of juice.

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SOURCE: Gal Tziperman Lotan 
The Boston Globe

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