A Chance Church Encounter

In a new neighborhood, finding a spiritual home that feels just right.

Posted in , Feb 3, 2017

How did you find your favorite place to worship?

Now that I’m settled in my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, I’ve been on the lookout for a new church to join. Brooklyn is known as the “Borough of Churches,” so there’s no shortage of them. Even so, it’s been taking me some time to pinpoint just the right one.

Mostly because I find “church shopping” a little scary. I always imagine that the moment I step into a new church, all heads will turn to stare at me and silently question my neon-orange winter hat (hey, it was on sale at Old Navy!). Sometimes I wish I could just go to the church I attended as a kid, five minutes from my parents’ house. I felt so at home there, neon hat and all.

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I was still on the hunt for a good church when my parents came to visit last month for New Year’s weekend. My dad requested that we go to church on Sunday, which was New Year’s Day. I was kind of surprised. Growing up, my mom was the one who rushed everyone out of the door to church. My dad, the son of a priest in Turkey, wasn’t always so enthusiastic about attending! So I took his request now seriously. There was a church nearby my apartment that I’d been meaning to check out. We decided to go to the 9 a.m. service.  

On Sunday, though, we all woke up late and missed the morning Mass. My dad suggested we take a walk through the neighborhood instead since the weather was nice. I was tired from staying up to watch the fireworks the night before and took my time getting ready. Finally, close to noon, we set out for our walk.  

We didn’t have a plan for our stroll and ended up in a cute area with lots of historic brownstones. We came across an old Gothic church. One I hadn’t seen before. People were rushing to get inside. Odd since it was about 12:20 p.m. and most church services started at noon on the dot. Was Mass just starting? What were the chances? My dad and I looked at each other. “Let’s go in,” I said.

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We found seats inside. Sure enough, Mass had just started. I took a look around the church, at the stained glass windows, vaults and arches. It was beautiful. And there was a good mix of people of all ages.

It wasn’t as close as some of the other churches I’d spotted in Brooklyn. But something about it felt right. Even, I later realized, its name. St. Francis. Just like the church I’d attended in my hometown as a kid.    

What about you? How were you divinely led to your favorite place of worship?

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