First up: Immanuel's Church (IC) in Silver Spring (Colesville), Maryland.
I started attending IC in January, 1992, two years after my divorce and subsequent move from Virginia back to Maryland. For over a year, I drove past the church a few times a month on my way to visit friends in my old home town. The church always had encouraging messages on their sign out front - messages that made me think and lifted my spirits.
After a rough holiday, I decided to visit. Wow, what a change from the Catholic church I had been attending! Here's what I remember most:
- People greeted me with welcoming-but-not-intrusive hugs at the door, then allowed me space to find my own way.
- Worship - singing time - was extremely demonstrative. People raised their hands, danced, and waved flags. I felt uncomfortable, yet intrigued.
- Pastor Charles spoke for almost an hour. With every message, I felt conviction, yet hope that Jesus loved me right where I was.
- The two-hour+ service never seemed that long.
- They offered many classes to help you learn about the Bible, Jesus, and practical Christian living.
- The worship music included many joyful, Messianic Jewish songs.
- They had communion every Sunday, and also celebrated and taught about many of the Jewish feasts.
After attending for five months, Jesus grabbed hold of my heart and never let go. I gave my life to Him in May, 1992, and was baptized at IC in June, 1992. (My testimony is in my first book, Intentional Fitness.)
I met many people who showed me Jesus, and gained two very dear friends during my time at IC: Myra Smith, who runs a ministry in Guatemala, MCYEP; and Marion Harris, with whom I am woefully negligent in re-connecting since moving back to the DC area last year. (Marion, we need a plan!)
I left IC after only a few years because I moved to Illinois. Since then, I've been back for a visit a time or two, and was excited to see they had greatly expanded. But it doesn't look like their mission has changed: to know Jesus Christ and make Him known.
If you live in the Silver Spring/Colesville, Maryland area and are looking for a church, be sure to check them out!