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‘Hope been happening here’: Light of the World celebrates National Back to Church Sunday

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Light of the World Christian Church made sure to create a welcoming environment for members and guests during Sunday worship service Sept. 18 for its National Back to Church Sunday service.

The third Sunday of September is National Back to Church Sunday — a day to encourage friends, neighbors and coworkers to try church again or for the first time. This year’s Back to Church Sunday theme was “Hope Happens Here,” and during Light of the World’s service, guest speaker Rev. Sheila Spencer performed a poem addressing the many ways churches cultivate hope for their congregations.

“Hope happens here because even when physical doors were closed the church never ever shut down,” Spencer said. “When I was reflecting on all of that, it became crystal clear the title of this poem is ‘Hope been happening here.’”

Light of the World Christian Church celebrated National Back to Church Sunday on Sept. 18, 2022. (Photo/Abriana Herron)

National Back to Church Sunday began as an initiative to increase church attendance in America after seeing a decline over the years while also sharing love, peace and hope from church to the community, according to the National Back to Church Sunday website. Since the creation of the event, more than 4 million followers have participated at more than 40,000 churches.

The service began with a musical performance from Randy Weston & Judah Band. During the “pass the love” section of the service, members of the congregation and guests of the church greeted the people around them.

Light of the World’s pastor, Rev. Janae Pitts-Murdock, came on the stage singing with the congregation. Her sermon was about how to live a “faith-filled” life as a Christian.

“Faith-filled living is after you have done all you can, God will step in and do the rest,” she said. “Wherever Jesus is, hope is.”

Moved by Pitts-Murdock’s sermon, many people walked to the front of the sanctuary during the “invitation to discipleship” — the end of the service where the pastor asks people in the crowd if they want to become a member of the church and be baptized.

After the service, Light of the World had activities including food trucks, games, voter registration and free health screenings for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Minetta Richardson, 73, said these activities were a way to engage the younger generations and spread “the Gospel through food, fun and fellowship.”

Norman Stewart has been a member of Light of the World since 2003, and he said he has not missed a Sunday service. Even during the pandemic, the 83-year-old made sure to watch the church via livestream, and Stewart said this church service was just as important as every other Sunday worship service.

“It’s important to be here today because it’s just another Sunday to be with the Lord,” he said.

Light of the World will baptize about a dozen people Sept. 25, and the church will continue to share the word of God and faith throughout its congregation and the community.

“Hope been happening here,” Spencer said in the poem. “Even though we may be wearing masks, God’s love and spirit is not hidden or covered. Even though we may be social distancing, we’re still spiritually connected.”

Contact religion reporter Abriana Herron at 317-924-5243. Follow her on Twitter @Abri_onyai. Abriana is also a Report for America corps member with The GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and worldwide.

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