Scriptural View: 3/5
Preaching: Topical, Exegetical
Service Times: 8am, 11am
Site Usability: 1/5
Site Design: 1/5
Site Content: 1/5
Review: New Hope Friendship Missionary Baptist Church has a name that doubles as a sentence. I attended a service in October 2004. In September, Reverend Dr. Robert E. Houston Sr. submitted his resignation as the Pastor of New Hope Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. After serving nine years as the senior pastor, Reverend Houston decided to enter a preaching-evangelism ministry. Assistant Pastor, Alonzo Brooks Sr., since has taken over as the interim pastor. Reverend Brooks said, “(The resignation) was a bit of a surprise to a lot of people in the church. We are still going on. It is a process but the church is moving on.”
The service I attended was preached by a visiting preacher, Minister Lieutenant Hodges. Reverend Brooks told me that in the month he has taken over, two times he has had visiting ministers preach. This practice seems common in the African-American Baptist community.
Hodges focused heavily on delivery. He varied volumes and tempo of his speech. Dramatic arm and hand movements emphasized points in the sermon. He repeatedly asked, “Can I get some hand-praises to God?” and the congregation replied with vigorous applause. The congregation shouted “amen”, “preach, reverend” and other encouraging phrases throughout the sermon. When the congregation responded well to a particular sermon point, Hodges smiled and turned to Reverend Brooks and shook Brooks’s hand.
Hodges broke into song three times during his preaching. Taking a lead from Ezekiel’s mention of dry bones, the minister sang, “The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone and the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone…the neck bone is connected to the head bone”. Minister Hodges ended his sermon by reminding the congregation that “God can do anything, including bringing life to the dry bones of people who do not believe in Jesus.”
Much of the sermon appeared to be a show and the content of the sermon lacked any meat. In between the two services are bible studies, where I hope more time is spent diving into God’s word. I did ask Reverend Brooks what his church believes about life after death. He explained, “We believe your soul goes to heaven if you are a Christian. If not, your soul is doomed to eternal damnation. To become a Christian, God chooses us before the foundations of this world. He sends the Holy Spirit to give us the unction to follow him. Without the Holy Spirit indwelling us as believers, we would never accept Him.” He answered a few other theological questions with orthodox comments which increased my confidence in his ministry.
A 2-star church based on the visiting preacher but the interim Reverend Brooks seemed solid in his beliefs. If you plan on attending, I would recommend you investigate the bible studies and other classes to ensure that you will grow in your knowledge of God’s Word.