The Church of the Advent, in Southern Pines, practices ancient Christian worship that Father Michael McKinnon said he delivers like a Baptist preacher.
“My wife was Baptist, and she was the toughest convert I ever had,” McKinnon laughed.
This denomination of faith is evangelical, believes the Bible is the authoritative voice of God, and has a zeal for missionary service, like the Baptist faith.
“Every three years, I start the Bible over,” McKinnon said about preaching consecutively.
The service uses liturgical methods, which are symbolic methods because, in the earliest times, a significant population was illiterate. People learned through oral communication and symbols.
Father Michael McKinnon welcomes all Dec. 13, 2022, to worship at Deese Chapel at 1517 Luther Way, Southern Pines.
“Some Anglican churches have a patron saint,” McKinnon said. “These are heroes in the faith who inspire us in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our church has two patron saints, both of whom are also patron saints of the military and first responders. St. Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier who gave his cloak to a poor man. That night, Jesus appeared to Martin in a dream and said to him, ‘I received this cloak from my servant Martin.’ Martin became a Bishop of the Church. Our other patron is Michael the Archangel.”
Martin was born in 316 and died in 397 AD. He was born to pagan parents but became a Christian.
McKinnon is from New England and was ordained nearly 30 years ago. He lived in Marlborough, Massachusetts for 18 years. He left to plant this new church from scratch without money or a building.
His wife, Christine McKinnon, works remotely for Raytheon Technologies Corporation.
They have two daughters. Sarah, 18, is studying philosophy and psychology at Stoneybrook University in Long Island, New York. Rebecca is a sophomore at Union Pines High School and is an avid equestrian.
When he is not in the sanctuary, McKinnon enjoys his role as a chaplain for the Southern Pines Fire Department and as a volunteer at the Southern Pines Food Pantry. He also teaches scripture and writings through the times under rule by St. Benedict’s Apostolic Fathers at All Saints Christian Academy, a private school in Cameron.
During worship services, Anglican priests wear a robe called an Alb, which is Latin for white and signifies a wedding garment, uniting the priest to God. The robe is tied with a rope, called a sancture, signifying worshippers are bound to God by obedience to enter the sanctuary. The third item worn is a stole, signifying Christ having put on God, and his Word becomes flesh and authority to proclaim. The chasuble is the last layer, and it symbolizes being a new creation in Christ Jesus.
It seems like the symbolic clothing would bring attention to the priest, but worshippers see the symbols glorifying Christ in the Gospel.
The sanctuary holds the alpha and omega symbols, and overlooking the tabernacle are two angels, Michael and Gabriel. The angels are from the Old Testament and are on the Ark of the Covenant, showing God’s plans as undefined and special.
“We believe Christ is here in a special way,” McKinnon said.
Members reserve leftover Holy Communion to take to shut-ins.
The website is thechurchoftheadvent.org.
The new Church of the Advent is renting space in Our Savior Lutheran Church at 1517 Luther Way. The sanctuary is in the original building, which was a mission about 60 years ago. It is named the Deese Chapel.
“We are singing a cappella right now,” McKinnon said about needing a pianist or organ player.
The church is holding a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service with Holy Communion at 5 p.m.
Fr. Michael may be reached at 910-585-4305 or [email protected]
If you would like to have your church featured in this series, please email [email protected].
Feature photo: Father Michael McKinnon welcomes all Dec. 13, 2022, to worship at Deese Chapel at 1517 Luther Way, Southern Pines.
~Article, photo, and video by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].