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“I’ve seen hundreds of people come into the neighborhood to make a difference and, in 18 months, they’re gone,” Wells said. “They didn’t do their homework,” he said. They didn’t understand the toll poverty, mental illness or chemical dependency can take, nor the significance of history and culture.
“The complexity of the neighborhood,” he said, “can be overwhelming.”
Longtime members have chosen St. Paul’s, not despite that reality, but because of it.
Judy Grommes, of Columbia Heights, has been a member since 2001, learning about the church from her son-in-law, who is pastor of Iglesia Centro Cristiano. She connected immediately with the church’s commitment to scripture and its willingness “to reach out to all those around them.”
Misrak Adoga, of Ethiopia, has worked as Wells’ secretary since 2001. “He has a big heart for immigrants,” she said. Hal Biel and his wife, Cheryl, were searching for a better spiritual fit when they joined St. Paul’s in 1982. They drive from Plymouth. Hal has served as church president. Cheryl sings in the choir. In 2009, the couple took a round-the-world trip to learn about the church’s international ministry work.
They’ll all be celebrating the jubilee, which begins with an evening concert March 23, a re-enactment of the historic march on Palm Sunday and a global worship celebrating world music on May 4. (For details, go to www.stpaulschurch.info).
“Our worship is very simple,” Wells said. “We’re not fancy, we’re not rich. We get the job done.”
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