I am often invited by friends to journey to their churches, but this particular visit was by the leading of the Lord alone. I had driven by this church many times when I lived in the area. Though I knew nobody there personally, I felt a strong urgency to visit. The doors are always open at this church, and strangers become friends the moment they enter. Friendship Baptist Church is the perfect name for this family of believers.
The entire service had everyone actively engaged, including the children. That old reliable B3 organ accompanied a choir of approximately 20 men, women and children. The drummer, in her early teens, kept perfect time as we all sang a mix of hymns and choruses filled with joy and thanksgiving. They welcomed the visitors and gave us at Upstate NY Ministry Network the microphone to introduce ourselves. I shared how God is ever present at each church we visit, regardless of the denomination. As I stated that we were all One Body in Christ, applause filled the room. Young children enthusiastically greeted each of us with a welcome bag containing a gift and some church information. What a blessing it was to see the children serving alongside the adults throughout the entire service.
The pastor was then introduced which included a “song of sermonic preparation”. Everyone was enjoying the worship and excited and hungry to hear the Word of God, but yet nothing was rushed. That very morning I had been watching televangelist David Jeremiah who spoke on being transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). So you could imagine my surprise when Pastor William Hamilton spoke on the very same thing … Spiritual Transformation.
We need to be TRANSFORMED and not CONFORMED by this world. Transformation enables us to be more like Him and is evident through a changed life. We are not the same … God gives us a new heart, a new mind, a new will and a new spirit. We need to sit and let God give us a spiritual makeover. If you are the same and not growing, then you need a spiritual makeover! If you think ministry can’t be done without you, then you need a spiritual makeover! If you think coming to church on Sunday is all you need, then you need a spiritual makeover! Transformation is a progressive work that we cannot do without God and God can’t accomplish without our participation. In Philippians 3:14, Paul states, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. Nobody is a finished work. We all need continual transformation to become more Christ like.
It was communion Sunday and a row of deacons and deaconesses, dressed in white, stood before the congregation. They put on white gloves and served the elements. Pastor Hamilton personally served the elderly. Communion is always meaningful, but this morning I was reminded that we are UNIFIED, One Body in Christ, as we broke bread with our newly met family members. Following this, the choir lead us in the song “I Know it was the Blood” as Pastor Hamilton sang and offered his closing remarks. Nobody was yawning or looking at their watches. The service ended with the same level of energy it had started with.
Friendship Baptist has been serving the community of Schenectady since the 1920’s, moving to their current location at 407 Union Street in 1956. Pastor Hamilton was installed as pastor in 2009 and encourages the theme, “God’s Plan … Our Mission”. The church is overflowing with ministries including ushers/ nurses ministry, transportation, pastor’s aid, culinary, floral, hospitality, dance and a variety of choirs. Through the Missionary Ministry they hold clothing drives, partner with the Salvation Army to help provide food and clothing to those in need, provide grief support and prayer support, and visit those who are sick or in prison. Friendship Community Development Corporation (Friendship House) was established by the members of the church in 1998 to focus on programs benefiting the surrounding community. Located at 955 State Street, FCDC provides mentoring and after-school tutoring and programs that have a positive impact on the education and development of the youth.
We thoroughly enjoyed our morning worshiping and praising our Lord Jesus with our newly met friends. What a friend we have in Jesus, and what a friend we have in the brothers and sisters at Friendship Baptist Church. Come for a visit and be transformed!
Church Website – http://friendshipbaptistchurchny.org
By Donna Hansen Munafo
Edited by Michael Frati