"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11

Monday, November 26, 2012



Ministry can be messy, complicated, and bewildering. Whether responding to the church alarm mysteriously and repeatedly going off in the middle of the night, firing a kitchen assistant with a habit of buying drugs from parishioners, or interacting with the Chicken-Eatin' Preacher from West Greenville, pastor Deb Richardson-Moore quickly admits that there is a great deal they do not teach you in seminary. 

In this frank and engaging account of answering a call later in life, Richardson-Moore brings the reader into the world of her work at the Triune Mercy Center in Greenville, South Carolina. The result is an honest look at the complications and difficulties surrounding her first years of ministry to homeless men and women suffering from mental illness, crack addictions, and alcoholism. At the same time, it is a humorous and deeply touching account of God's grace manifested in the most remarkable of ways, whether in the inadvertent befriending of a mugger or in the unexpected witnessing of an addict tenderly washing another's wounded foot. 

In The Weight of Mercy, Richardson-Moore weaves a story that is difficult to forget, due both to its engaging characters and also its radical vision of what the Christian church could look like if it truly lived out Christ's command to welcome the stranger.




Deb Richardson-Moore is pastor of the non-denominational Triune Mercy Center--a mission church that ministers to and alongside the homeless in Greenville, South Carolina. Her congregation consists of street people who live in Greenville's "homeless triangle," as well as city dwellers and suburbanites who believe that the kingdom of God is widely and wildly inclusive.  

She is a native South Carolinian and a graduate of Wake Forest University and Erskine Theological Seminary. Prior to becoming a pastor, she was an award-winning writer for The Greenville News, covering art, theater, religion and unconventional features. Her stories on a losing soccer team and on the lost art of clothes ironing won national awards, as did her body of work on religion. 

Under Deb's leadership, Triune has been transformed from a dying church and crowded soup kitchen into a vibrant worship community whose parishioners mingle freely across socioeconomic lines. She has introduced international opera and Broadway stars to the homeless, and in return, introduced homeless musicians and visual artists to the Greenville community. Using art, music, drama and gardening along with more traditional programming such as mental health counseling, computer training, employment help, and drug rehabilitation, Triune has become known as a ministry that practices and preaches. 

Deb believes that living in solidarity with the impoverished, homeless, and mentally ill who make their way to Triune doesn't have to be grim. Nor ugly. Therefore, all comers are invited to share their gifts and to serve each other--from running the laundry room to serving communion to leading tours in which they are the experts on homelessness. Many of their efforts have gone into beautifying the building and grounds and making the inner-city church a sunny, cheerful place to be. 

But it wasn't always so. When Deb stepped into the Triune pastorate as an inexperienced, middle-aged seminary graduate, she was overwhelmed by the need and the grime, the demands and the dirt, the hidden horrors of a population she didn't know existed. She was determined not to forget those early years, and out of that determination came The Weight of Mercy. Deb is married to Vince Moore, who is director of media relations for Furman University. They have three grown children--Dustin, 29, Taylor, 27, and Madison, 22. The Weight of Mercy is her first book.


I wasn't exactly sure what I would be getting into when I decided to review this book. Sometimes when you read memoirs/biographies they can be hard to relate to. However, The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets is a real eye-opener not to mention encouraging, and heart-wrenching at times.
Extremely well written, Deb lays bare her heart for the ministry God put into her hands. Through her words I could see in my minds-eye Triune Mercy and those who came to find a hot meal, counseling, and hope. 

She openly shares the triumphs, the loses, the frustrations and the joys of stepping outside of her comfort zone to minister to those who may or may not care. 

Having personally been involved in a similar ministry, I could well-relate to her battles because it is war. It is a war between hope and hopelessness. It is a war between adiction and being set free. It is a war between loving those who hate everyone. Yet in spite of it all, it is the insurmountable joy of watching and sharing in the life that rises from the grave (so to speak) to becoming someone brand new in Christ. 

Through Deb's book I was encouraged and reminded that no matter how hopeless a situation may seem, when God places you there, He will bring you through to the end and He is the one who will receive the glory and praise. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs encouragement in their ministry and to those who are trying to decide if inner-city ministry is where God really wants them. It's worth it.
Kregel Publications provided me with a free review copy in order for me to write this review. 


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