A Place Called Eastern: How one church saved a life
March 15, 2017
By Michael Anthony Carrington, Jr.
Pastor, St. Luke’s UMC, Reisterstown
Michael Carrington is the BWC’s youngest pastor. The church that “adopted” him, Eastern UMC in Baltimore, recently sold its building. He felt called to write a tribute to the church that fed, clothed and loved him and his sisters.
You were not a church to me. Instead, you were a home, a place orphans yearn for, a place the homeless only dream of finding. A place called Eastern!
You carried me for 204 months, the hardest 204 months of your life. Bad as hell, but you found it not a crime to cuff and rock a stranger in your arms. You adopted me from a drug-infected neighborhood, a drug addicted mother, a workaholic father, a drug-dealing sister and an absent older brother.
See, you weren’t just anybody, you were sent from upstairs to stand on Baltimore’s blood-shedding corners to knock on the chambers of my heart.
You stood tall, with conviction mixed with boldness, in the hood, and knocked on 2416 only to invite three kids, whose parents were not home, whose older sister was bagging up crack and cocaine, while smoking Mary Jane. You kindly invited me to a huge bright-white tent entitled, “Saving Station.”
It was an Eastern outreach to recruit the lost, speak to the mute, feed the hungry, mother the motherless, father the fatherless, invite one boy and two girls to a place called “sanctuary;” a place called Eastern!
You invited me into your home, which was paved with red carpet. You sat me down on your hardwood pews and taught me about the grace that preceded my human circumstances.
For 17 years, four days and 24 hours, you birthed me in Scripture, saturated me in tradition, protected me in reason, then sent me on my way with experience.
You drove me to school, visited me at home, fed me, clothed me, taught me, tutored me and then you married me.
This Place Called Eastern!
It was a place of discipline, a place of comfort, a place of love. a place of knowledge, ministry, grace and mercy.
It was a place for orphans; a place for widows; a place for justice. It was the Motherland for those robbed of life, seeking to find their way.
It was a home for the corners of North Avenue and Caroline Street; a home full of ministry; the birth place for evangelism; a house of hope and prophetic voices. A place called Eastern!
It was a home for me. I am its prodigy. Here, I raise my Ebenezer.