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of the Apostles, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Church of the
Apostles, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Independent Evangelical Anglican.
Absolutely gorgeous – and huge! The church is clearly
visible from the road – no driving around aimlessly trying
to find this one, for sure! The architecture is breathtaking,
and the landscaping pretty and tasteful. The main sanctuary
features a circular platform up front flanked by projection
screens and backed by stained glass windows. The building sprawls
out into various chapels, classrooms, child-care/nursery facilities,
and probably much more than I was able to see. Best of all,
there are clear directional signs everywhere inside the church.
Despite the vast size of the building, it was easy to navigate
and find where I needed to be, whether it was the restroom,
the bookshop, or the main sanctuary. As the church is located
in an urban business area, there was a large parking deck (no
charge for parking, of course).
This church is huge. There are thousands of members and attendees.
Yet, in spite of the massive amounts of people everywhere, not
once did I feel out of place, lost, or unnoticed. It was a very
friendly, welcoming church. Its numerous ministries are documented
on their website. The church is also noted for its world-wide
television and radio ministry, "Leading the Way."
Church of the Apostles is located in an affluent area of northwest
Atlanta, on a very busy main road.
The Revd Michael Amerhom Youssef, rector, conducted baptisms
and preached the sermon. Other members of the fabulous worship
team were not mentioned by name.
The date & time:
August 9, 2009, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
Gathering of the Body.
How full was the building?
The main auditorium of the church, where I was seated, appeared
to be almost completely full. Fortunately, I had arrived early
enough to get a great seat in the fifth row – great view
of everything, up close and personal! The balcony, which circled
three sides of the auditorium, appeared to be not quite half
full. The congregation were a very good mix of ages –
very young, very old, in between – and races. Most people
were dressed in their Sunday best (recall that the church is
located in a fairly affluent area), while I wore my usual black
jeans, Christian biker t-shirt, and comfortable (i.e., well-worn)
Did anyone welcome you
Yes! First, the people entering the building before me held
the door for me and said good morning. Next, one of the church
women greeted me and handed me a flyer advertising an upcoming
event, inviting me to attend. As I meandered around the foyer,
stopping at the various information tables, various people greeted
me and were very helpful.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, the pews were padded and very comfortable. The only thing
not-so-comfortable about the pews was that they were a bit too
close together. Whenever anyone entered or left the pews, it
was a bit of a squeeze for them to get by.
How would you describe the pre-service
Busy, upbeat, friendly. People were greeting friends, going
to or from their various Bible study classes, etc. People were
very outgoing and friendly, going out of their way to introduce
themselves to others. Nearly everyone – members and visitors
alike – wore name tags (available at the info desks). Good
idea, I thought!
What were the exact opening words of the
I was enjoying myself so much, taking in the beauty of the sanctuary
and chatting with my pew-mate Pat (who's been going to this
church for a little over two years now), I forgot to write the
down the opening words (oops, sorry). But they were something
along the lines of "Welcome to the Church of the Apostles."
What books did the congregation use during the
The Holy Bible, New International Version (large print
edition). No hymn books, as the words to the songs were put
up on screens at the front of the church.
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboards, violins, guitars, trombone, drums, and other instruments
that I could not see from where I sat. The musicians appeared
to be in a sort of mini-orchestra pit behind the altar, so I
couldn't see all of them.
Did anything distract you?
The only thing that distracted me was, well, me! I kept looking
around and trying to take in everything. The stained glass windows,
each depicting a different scene or picture, were gorgeous.
Despite my non-conformist attire, not once did I get any negative
looks, nor did anyone avoid me or appear to be uncomfortable
or unwilling to approach me. By the end of the service I had
the strong and distinct impression that had I been wearing Gucci,
or had I been a homeless person wearing rags, it would not have
mattered to the people at this church. They were just glad I
was there, regardless of how I dressed. And that is how it should
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Very upbeat! The worship was a fabulous blend of traditional
hymns, a few modern contemporary Christian worship songs, and
some classic praise choruses. Something for everyone, and very
well done. Some people raised their hands and clapped in worship;
some did not. This is a church where the happy-clappy and the
more conservative, reserved folks could (and did!) worship side
by side and feel right at home.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 I have heard Dr Youssef preach before on the radio
and on TV, but never in person. He came across as being very
genuine, sincere, dedicated, and truly passionate about knowing
and following Jesus, and leading others to know and follow him!
He presented the gospel and biblical truths simply and unashamedly
without coming across as a fire-and-brimstone guy. All in all,
I found his sermon to be a solid, well-balanced challenge and
encouragement to continue living a life of total obedience to
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The rector's text was Philippians 1:27-2:11 (be humble as Jesus
was humble), Without unity of mind, home and church, it is impossible
to have true joy. And without complete submission and obedience
to God through a genuine and vital relationship with Jesus Christ,
it is impossible to live in unity. Sin blocks our relationship
with God and others and is the cause of strife and disunity.
Sin keeps us from experiencing true joy. When sin is repented
of, dealt with and forgiven, unity can again grow and joy will
be restored. As followers of Jesus, we should have the same
attitude that Jesus had when he walked this earth: an attitude
of being a servant to others, humble, compassionate, merciful,
and genuinely loving others. While Jesus was fully divine and
had every right to lord it over his disciples, making them serve
his every whim, he did not do so. Instead, he chose to limit
himself to human form and all that entails, even dying on a
cross, so that we might come into relationship with him.
Which part of the service was like being in
Most of it! I was pleased and even a tad surprised by how welcomed
I felt there, from beginning to end. Probably the very best
part of the whole experience, to me, was the worship. The music
was beautiful and the songs were some of my favorites.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I'd have to say the parking garage. Parking garages and I don't
get along so well – I'm forever getting lost in them and end
up driving in circles forever. On the upside, there were several
Atlanta police officers directing traffic in and out, thus making
my escape from the maze much easier.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I felt so comfortable and at home, it was hard to look lost.
I did hang around the lobby for five minutes following service,
during which time several people said "hi" to me as they went
by. But nobody stopped to chat, and I eventually took the bulletin's
suggestion and asked at the information desk for directions
to the coffee reception. Even so, I still did not feel left
out. So many people had spoken to me and struck up conversations
earlier that I didn't feel isolated in the least.
How would you describe the after-service
Coffee was great, as was the mixed fresh fruit they had set
out specifically for first-time visitors. I gathered my gift
bag (which contained two CDs and a slew of information about
the church and its ministries) and settled into a corner, to
attempt to look lost and alone again. No such luck – several
people came by and struck up conversations with me again.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 From what I could tell, this appears to be a phenomenal,
thriving, church. Everything was absolutely fabulous! Doctrinally
sound, genuine, friendly, and with myriad ministries and Bible
studies and classes to meet the needs of just about every demographic
you can think of. I live some distance away and am happy with
my own church, so I will not be making this my church home.
But I would heartily recommend this church to anyone! And were
I to move to Atlanta, Church of the Apostles would definitely
be on my list of churches to learn more about.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes, very much so. Glad, and challenged to continue a life of
obedience and service!
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
How welcoming everyone was and how accepted and part of the
group I felt, in spite of the fact that this is a big, famous,
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