Baptist Routes Pilgrimage – Day 4 – Boston and Cambridge

As we drove into Boston, the hues of gold and orange lined the interstate telling the story of fall. Boston in the fall is magical. Crisp air surrounded us, making us wish we had remembered our jackets. We indulged in a famed lobster roll and clam chowder in a bread bowl at Faneuil Hall.

Eventually, it was time to cross the Charles River to enter Cambridge. Boston and Cambridge are quite different from one another. In the heart of Boston, you find the hustle of the city. In the heart of Cambridge, you find a quieter community centered on learning, growing, and discovering.

Old Cambridge Baptist Church sits in an incredible stone building in the middle of Harvard Square. Signs for the church adorn the entrance alongside the stone sign and statue signifying the presence of a prominent dance studio inside.

The church shares space with the dance studio but also several non-profits who hold offices in the basement. Years ago, the congregation realized that it’s size could no longer sustain the costs of the building and ministry. So they got creative and took a leap of faith, inviting others to partner with them in maintaining their space.

Because their sanctuary doubles as a ballet performance space, there are no pews. While we might find that difficult to imagine, This gives the worship leaders free reign to determine the best set up for worship that complements the narrative of worship. Tzimtzum is the Hebrew word for making space. It is the word that precedes every creative act of God in our Hebrew Bibles. OCBC practiced tzimtzum in creating space for others in order for the Spirit of God to work in creatively in their midst.

We recorded homilies for November 22nd in their space. This will be the day we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, which is the final Sunday in the liturgical year. It is also the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, so we will also talk about the bountiful love of God that is like a cornucopia overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables.

We chose OCBC for a number of reasons. Our friend and their pastor, Cody Sanders, truly embodies the balance between being a prophet and pastor. OCBC has a rich history of being on the forefront of prophetic justice issues. They stand up for the least and the last in their community and all over the world. They examine their own spiritualities and actions for subtle oppressions that may have seeped into their lives. They have done this courageous work in community with one another for decades. They are a congregation about our size, but making an immense impact in their community and in the greater Baptist world by simply using their voice. OCBC is a congregation that embodies the bountiful love of God that we will celebrate on November 22.

As we stood with Cody sharing stories about our two congregations, the similarities between the two became apparent.

This pilgrimage has been incredible thus far. It has been encouraging and enlightening to see these congregations and speak with these pastors about what they are doing to reimagine church in 2020 and going forward. But most of all, it has afforded us an opportunity to fall more in love with our congregation. As we speak with these other pastors, inevitably we share the aspects of our church that we are most proud of. We talk about our assets as a community and the real opportunities that lay ahead. In putting voice to our reality as a congregation and our hopes for our congregation, it has reignited a fiery love for the people of First Baptist Church in Savannah.

We truly believe that OCBC’s journey is important to lift up at this point in our congregation’s life to show us an example of a church living their message. But most of all, we are grateful for a rich experience at OCBC that helped us fall more in love with FBC Savannah.