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Finding the Grace Gates

A Leadership Interview

The sanctuary is packed. Ushers wedge latecomers into the few empty seats scattered across the long, low room. When those seats are full, they open clattering doors to overflow rooms on the sides. There's no holy hush in this place. Even the quiet moments are accompanied by electronic instruments and punctuated by whispers.

At times the service is more like the Promise Keepers rallies that have brought Joseph Garlington to prominence (he led worship at the mammoth 1998 Stand in the Gap event in Washington, D.C.).

The congregation cheers as people approach the altar area to signify their commitment to Christ, and (amazingly) they cheered just as enthusiastically when it was time to pass the offering baskets ("It's a privilege to give!"). But throughout was a sense that something holy—sometimes exuberant, sometimes tender, always spontaneous—something holy is happening here.

Welcome to Covenant Church of Pittsburgh, where Garlington is pastor and, as he puts ...

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