Partway through the service at the Apostolic Cathedral of Hope, Deacon Freddie Herring commented, “Every word I can think of is not enough to praise the Lord.” Of course, that wasn’t going to stop him and other members of the congregation from trying.
Some churches I have visited for this column have taken the instruction to “make a joyful noise” to heart, and Apostolic Cathedral of Hope is certainly one of them. Messages of praise and gratitude are delivered heavenward with reactions to prayer and messages ranging from shouts to tears.
Although a significant portion of the service was given to music and hymns, one section focused on testimonies of faith. One man said he had lost several family members and that it made him realize that life is fleeting and that one has to prepare for what lies beyond death. A woman thanked a family for providing her with a home, saying they had demonstrated biblical teachings with their actions.
The church has been in a small stone cathedral at the corner of Eugene O’Neill Drive and Starr Street since 1996. The ceiling soars above tight-packed pews, and a cross is painted at the front above a passage from the Book of Acts. Several congregants welcomed me as I took a seat, and Pastor Alice Thornton gave a greeting as well during the testimonies.
Thornton’s sermon focused on an assurance that God answers prayers, encouraging congregants to reaffirm their faith. She said people should continue to have faith throughout hardships, always have praise for God, and not give in to detractors.
“When God is for you, he’s more than the whole world against you,” she said.
Thornton said the mission of the church is to save souls. She said all people are welcome at the services.
“We want everybody to hear the word of God, and hopefully by hearing the word of God it will change their mind,” she said.
Herring said he has attended the church for 13 to 14 years. He said he enjoyed the impassioned demonstrations of praise that take place during the services.
“I just love coming here, because the spirit of the Lord dwells here,” he said.
Vivian Aaron, who has attended for five years, said the small size of the congregation allows for closer communication. She said the church also has good leadership and educational opportunities.
“But most of all I enjoy the emphasis on the name of Jesus, the baptism in his name,” she said.
Catherine Billups has attended for two years and said she liked the freedom the church offers in the worship of God.
“We get the unadulterated word of God here, the truth,” she said.
Sunday services at the Apostolic Cathedral of Hope take place at 11:45 a.m.