The Church of No Lost Causes

A few years ago a woman was getting off the bus on Route 1 in northern Virginia, just across the river from Washington, D.C. She remembers feeling a little lost. The bus driver noticed and asked what she was looking for. She thought for a moment, then answered, "God." The driver pointed across a parking lot and said, "God's right over there." She looked at the nearly empty office park and saw a large sign: "Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church."

Methodist it was, but it wasn't much of a church by traditional standards. It was a former insurance office, and despite a few dozen folding chairs and a piano, it still looked like a place you'd go sheepishly to explain a car accident you hoped was covered. But this was a marked improvement over the station wagon that pastor and founder Rev. Keary Kincannon had used only a few years previously to reach out to the poor and suffering in the unlikeliest of places: Fairfax County, one of the wealthiest areas in the United States.

With a median household income of $106,000, Fairfax County in northern Virginia might not be the first choice for an idealistic Methodist seminarian who wanted to serve the poor. But having grown up in the region, Kincannon knew there was an invisible underside to the prosperity. He had long felt a calling to what he describes as transformational ministry, in a church for the lost, the lonely, and the least of these.

That storefront church was part of a journey that has culminated in an established and well-recognized ministry. After years of organizing and fund raising, Rising Hope Mission Church is a state-of-the-art church for and of the poor.

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