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The Holy Spirit Opens Doors

Penn Hagood 2023

Do you find joy in sharing the love of Jesus Christ? Do you appreciate our beautiful church, her three centuries of faithful ministry and her symbolically meaningful architecture? Would you enjoy sharing our sanctuary with others?

Then please come and join St. Philip’s Open Door Ministry, a ministry of Hospitality and Evangelism!

As ministers, we represent Christ and His Church to the world, and, these days, the world is coming to Charleston! They come by train, plane, automobile, and cruise ship. Many, if not most, of them walk or ride past our doors in cars, buses, rickshaws and carriages. What a ministry opportunity we have to share our faith, within our own city and the walls of our own sanctuary.

Open Door Ministry provides hospitality by opening our great western doors and inviting people in. We do this on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, working in shifts from 10:00-4:00. We welcome anywhere from 150 to over 700 visitors a day through our doors. Visitors and locals alike are thrilled to find our doors open.

We smile, we welcome them, and in the words of the apostle Philip, for whom our church is named, we say, “Come and see!”

If I may, please allow me to share one Open Door story:

One afternoon, a fellow walked in off the street. He was dressed in well worn khaki travel clothes, very casual with lots of pockets. He carried a camera and a travel book in his hand. Like many visitors, his eyes were focused forward up the aisle, toward the stained glass window and the high altar, and he didn’t really notice me at first.

I greeted him in the narthex with the usual spiel, saying, “Welcome to St. Philip’s. Please feel free to come in and enjoy the church. You are welcome to take pictures. Please let me know if I can answer any questions.”

He glanced over, nodded, and proceeded into the back of the sanctuary. He looked around for a minute or two, then returned and approached me in the narthex.

“Ok,” he said, “I have a question for you. What is the meaning of life?”

I usually try to pray before my Open Door shift that the Holy Spirit would guide my conversations with visitors, so that whatever I say might shine the light of Christ into their lives and they would be drawn to Him.

This man caught me a little off guard with his question, and, if I had thought about it, I would not have known how to respond. Instead, I opened my mouth, and all I can say is that the Holy Spirit spoke the words.

I looked him in the eye and said, “I can’t answer that question for you, but, you will find the answer in there, at the foot of the cross,” and I gestured into the sanctuary.

He cocked his head to one side, gave me a quizzical look, and walked back into the church. He remained there for about forty-five minutes. During that time, he stood at the head of the aisle and gazed at the altar; he sat in a pew, and he wandered the side aisles reading all of the monument stones.

When he finally returned to the narthex, he approached me again.

He said, “I have traveled all over the world, and everywhere I go I ask that question. You are the first person who has ever given me an answer. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you.”

This is our Open Door Ministry. It is an unending, daily opportunity to invite people in to meet Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world. So many are searching. All we have to do is to follow in the footsteps of Philip, and say, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph…Come and see!”

To join St. Philip’s Open Door Ministry, please contact Penn Hagood at pennhagood@gmail.com or Elizabeth Bowles at epbowles2@comcast.net.