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Salvaging a Sinking Ship


It is my job as lookout on the wall to scan for the signs that give clues to what my people need.
—Suzan D. Johnson Cook

Mariners' Temple was, by all definitions, a dying church. People, playing with the name, referred to it as "a sinking ship." The congregation had dwindled to fifteen members in a facility that holds more than a thousand, so it took some unusual circumstances to bring me there as pastor.

During my last semester in seminary, I was working part-time in our local denominational office. I learned about a vacancy in a church in Chinatown on the Lower East Side of New York, the Mariners' Temple Baptist Church. The only contact I had had with this community was my childhood trips to Mott Street for an authentic Chinese meal. And in January I had preached for Mariners's pastor when he was on vacation.

Now that pastor had decided to resign, and the last voice from the pulpit the congregation remembered was mine. They inquired if I would serve as their interim pastor.

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July/August
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