Visit to U.S. churches a special experience for Truro minister

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‘I loved the fact that they took up the offering in popcorn containers’

By Ken Banks

During the last several weeks, I have been visiting various locations along the east coast of the United States and Canada, from Virginia to Nova Scotia.

This has been part of a 30-day sabbatical experience that my church has permitted my family to participate in.

      We have appreciated seeing new environments and living life from a different pace during this trip. It has also allowed us, in some respects, to be refreshed and recharged as a family – and for my wife and me, as a ministry team.

      We have connected with two very different types of churches during our journey to date.

One ministers in the influential capital district of Washington, D.C. It is called the National Community Church and is pastored by Mark Batterson, the author of the bestselling book ‘The Circle Maker.’

      This church has an attendance of nearly 2,500 people, and meets at six different locations, mainly in theatres. The service we attended was at a location in the Barracks Row area of Washington in an old vaudeville theater known as the Miracle Church.

      I am 42 years old and during the service we attended I noticed that the vast majority of the people in the service with us were younger than me. I found this to be exciting for here was a church that was reaching a generation of people that in many parts of North America is challenging for the church to reach.

      The theatre seats were small and old-fashioned (little leg room and space), there was no air conditioning (it was stuffy) and no natural light, the kids ministry was in a different building due to space constraints and the men’s washroom was down in what seemed like a dungeon.

      But the place was packed. It is a church on an exciting journey. It was good to be there.

I also loved the fact that they took up the offering in popcorn containers – staying in sync with their environment.

This church also runs a coffee house just a few blocks from the capital building. It was restored from an old turn-of-the-century diner, which had been used as a crack house in more recent times.

I had the opportunity to visit and meet one of the staff pastors. It was a great experience and all of the proceeds from the coffee house are returned to help fund mission work throughout the world.

      The other church we attended is called New Hope Family Worship Center and is located in Brooklyn, N.Y. The lead pastor is Anthony Graham.   This church offers two morning services, and attracts about 900 for attendance.

      While the National Community Church is located in a mainly white, influential area, this church is located in a poor, black section of its city. Basically, both the church and the community are 99 per cent Caribbean background. We five Caucasians definitely felt in the minority, but we were privileged to serve there for five days among this loving congregation.

      One day, my wife and daughter (who is five) helped to serve the neighbourhood through the church’s compassion ministry by helping to give away food to nearly 300 families. Prior to the food being given, I was able to speak to and greet those who wanted to come early and hear God’s word.

      I also was asked to meet with several young offenders who were on probation to share some advice, counsel and hope with them.

      There is so much more to share about our trip, but this offers just a bit of what we’ve been doing. It’s been good.

      Now, we’re looking forward to getting back to ministry in Truro.


Ken Banks is the pastor of the Wesleyan Church in Truro. Join them for Back to Church Sunday on Sept. 15.


Organizations: National Community Church, The Circle Maker, Miracle Church New Hope Family Worship Center Ken Banks Wesleyan Church

Geographic location: Truro, United States, Washington, D.C. Canada Virginia Nova Scotia Barracks Row North America Brooklyn N.Y. Caribbean

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