When I visit New England churches and begin talking to people, usually within the first few minutes I am asked this question, “Do you know how old our church is?” It’s a telling question because it reflects the deeply held value for history found in New England culture. Sometimes, though, it also reflects a church that is so tied to its past that it cannot see the present opportunities or its future. That is NOT the case of the First Baptist Church of Pocasset, MA located on Cape Cod.
A few weeks ago on a Thursday night I pulled into the church’s parking lot that was already beginning to fill up. People were gathering in small groups in the yard and patio. I could hear a few choice words every now and then and see a few people smoking and others about to “light up”. I was excited to be there and see Ed de la Cour, who has been the pastor there for over twenty years. Like most churches, this church has been through some tough times. But it’s a very different place now.
I had been invited to attend an AA meeting at the church and arrived a few minutes early. The meeting was to be held in the basement and right away I ran into a guy who said, “Hi, My name is John.” After introducing myself I told him I was there to meet Ed and that I was Ed’s ministry coach. I was not prepared for what I was about to hear. In the next five minutes, I thought John was going to blow a gasket telling me how great Ed was and how awesome the church was. He told me that Ed is very involved with AA groups and that there would be over 100 people there that night. Eleven AA groups meet at the church during a week. He said that the church provided tutoring and baby sitting services for those who needed it while they attended the AA meeting. He went on and on about how great things were between the church and his AA group. And then he said this, “Bill, you won’t believe this but get this…THEY HAVE PEOPLE PRAYING SPECIFICALLY FOR EACH GROUP THAT MEETS HERE.” He couldn’t emphasize that enough to me. John and the other AA people love Ed and the church.
That evening I sat for two hours listening to people and their struggles with sobriety. I listened to them tell how alcohol had ravaged their lives and destroyed their relationships. Then I listened to them talk about how their only hope was living each day and each hour sober. For some, it was how they were only as good as the last 30 seconds. I saw four people recognized for their first 24 hours of sobriety! All four were all teenagers!
Near the end of the meeting, Pastor Ed got up and announced that his church was throwing a BBQ for the AA groups. “You just come and all the food will be provided. We want to be a blessing to you so just come and hang out with us.” Ed has experienced a renewal of sorts himself and is energized by ministering to the AA groups. I believe he appreciates their honesty and transparency about their lives. They know they need help. They know that they have messed up. Ed is there offering hope. His church is living out the Incarnation and sharing the love of Jesus by continually serving them and reaching out to them. It’s a great story. First Baptist Church of Pocasset might be a small church but it is making a huge difference in people’s lives.
Click here to watch an interview with Ed and John done during my visit to First Baptist Church of Pocasset.