Monday, December 7, 2015 - by Mark A. Herndon
Sometimes life takes you off the Main Street to detour an alternate route. The change in direction can alter your life experiences and give you important messages of living in a community of all people. The music or the message is often debated as what I heard first …… as a child growing up in the South and more particularly in the Chattanooga area.
The last five decades have certainly shaped much of my thinking, education, personal values and more. My spiritual beliefs are based from a small country Baptist church, hard work ethics, and many of life’s simple enjoyments. Most of my childhood and pre-college years were spent living on a 40-acre farm, wide open spaces, few neighbors, and centered on family, schooling, working, farming, before the high tech levels of communication of the 21st century. It was just a laid-back community often keeping up on the Local and National news as turning to the local three network TV channels most of the time with poor reception and a few family type TV shows.
So much has changed in 50 plus years; we gave up our telephone party line with sometimes five neighbors taking time to access one land line for receiving and placing calls, having no clue ahead for social media and Internet networks with the whole world at our finger tips. The groove vinyl of 45’s & 33’s and tapes evolved to digital tunes changing the music/entertainment industry as a whole It was a 15-minute ride to our schools, churches, doctors and food stores. It was the small congregation churches and country neighborhood schools as the backbone support group of the community once known as Ware Branch. Today, we can tune in around the world for news, entertainment and church worship.
What I am saying is perhaps the days of Mayberry are gone…. If they truly exist it could be still in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, Virginia or Eastern Kentucky or the ranch and farm lands in the heart of America to the western desert and plains of the west. I have visited many of these areas too. Today, we still have a community, many communities, continuing to thrive, providing services to help where the needs are plenty.
Communities are reshaping, evolving and using all forms of media outreach to help another soul to replenish, be fed, seek shelter, and find a friend. They are a place and people who can meet the needs of those by introducing Christ to an inner city life-shaping, molding and teaching to develop a stronger social involvement, spiritual growth, educational and creative challenges.
It is to this point in my thoughts ……… I followed up an invite from some of my gifted musicians and friends to attend a place in the downtown intercity that offers these opportunities. My friends Brittany Ammons, Darren Self and Allison Morris invited me to a meeting place off Main Street for music and message known as MET OFF MAIN. Brittany’s parents are pastors Baron and Pamela Ammons.
The Sunday morning of my arrival, it was raining hard, as a heavy thunderstorm was moving across Chattanooga. The meeting place on Rossville Avenue was not a conventional brick and mortar stately church building. It was exactly what it is, not about the building or fixtures but about the inside. After parking, people continue to arrive with many placing their wet and some wind-broken umbrellas at the door. My observation quickly was this is a meeting place of all people, It was warm inside the building sure, but the people, smiling faces, happy children and all had the same interest. Quickly as the music program began with Brittany, Pastor Baron Ammons daughter and friends began, most became participates in raising their voices and hands in God’s praises. No one gave much thought anymore about the harsh weather outside. This was a church meeting place; people left their concerns at the door and entered in to love, praise, fellowship, lift up and worship Jesus Christ.
It was all in my thinking, days leading up to my visit, I asked myself who they are and what I can expect. The answer came quickly in words and deeds during the meeting. MET OFF MAIN is Modern, Eclectic and Transformational. Their message is biblically relevant to current issues and culture. The music is an amalgamation of genres. It inspires reverence, transcendence and enthusiastic worship. Their membership is heterogeneous and embracing. At the MET, people are valued for who they are and NOT what they are becoming in Christ. Everyone is someone important! Unconditional love and forgiveness are hallmarks of their existence. Positive transformation of individuals, families, communities, cities, states and nations is the bottom line of all their endeavors.
Loving, Leading and Living are pillars upon which their vision is predicated. Their highest priority is to exemplify and extend the love of JESUS to everyone. He said, in Matthew 22:39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This he contended has the second highest prominence among God’s commandments. We understand, according to the parable of the Good Samaritan, everyone in need is their neighbor—not just those who are members of their favorite homogeneous groups.
Your neighborhood, our neighborhood extends beyond our borders. Pastor Baron believes and teaches, love and acceptance are universal needs shared by all. Leading refers to manifesting transformed lives to those outside the MET. Living refers to spiritually equipping people with the requisite skills, aptitudes and practices to joyfully enjoy their lives in spite of experiencing tragedies and obstacles.
During the holidays, many times, things are familial and self-centered. We can all fall into the proverbial celebratory trenches and forget that although this season brings joy and bliss to so many, there are millions of others around the world who are hurting because of losses and lack of emotional, financial, spiritual, and family stability. Although the severity varies, we are all impacted by world tragedies. Our nation has been soiled by recent societal upheavals that have caused hate, segregation, division, and morally repugnant violence. Ephesian 4:3 (NLT) commands us to, “Make every effort to keep you UNITED in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with PEACE.”
As a church, it is our responsibility to restore the unity, peace, and balance that God intended for humanity since the earth was established.
In light of the recent international tragedies, The Met Off Main (located at 1800 Rossville Ave.) is having an International service on Dec. 13 at 11 a.m.
They want their light to shine brightly for Christ as they unite as one nation, under God. They are the Met—Modern, Eclectic, and Transformational. They love all people—regardless of religious, social, and racial backgrounds — and they want to transform this world, one soul, family, and community at a time.
For more information, please call outreach coordinator, Kristina Christie at (423) 320-8664, and visit their website for future communal events: www.metrolives.com
Baron and Pamela Ammons, Pastors and the Founders of MET OFF MAIN. (Pictured - Ammons Family - Baron II, Baron, Pamela & Brittany)
Mark A Herndon, certified professional geologist and professional photographer grew up in Chattanooga area, graduated from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. He is the Entertainment and Chattanooga cityscape/event photographer affiliated with Chattanoogan.com and contributor to magazines, venues and various festivals including Riverbend Festival, Nightfall Music Series, Road To Nightfall, Riverfront Nights, Southern Brewery Festival, Roof Top Hop, Wine Over Water, Tivoli Theatre Foundation, AC Entertainment and other events. Check out more at www.facebook.com/chattanoogalivemusic Email at MAHerndon@ChattanoogaLiveMusic.com