By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — Thirty years ago on July 12, the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church moved into its building on 11th Avenue North and that’s being celebrated during three days next month.
The Rev. Joanne Robertson, the first minister ordained by the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church, will offer a look back and a vision for the future at the church’s 7 p.m. revival on Friday, July 7.
The Rev. Edwin C. Sanders II, senior servant of Metropolitan Interdenominational, says it’s also known as the Whosoever Church at 2128 11th Ave., N. He calls Rev. Robertson the congregation’s first daughter.
“Saturday is our day in the park,” Rev. Sanders says. It’s 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 8 in Area 10 of Edwin Warner Park.
The 30th Homecoming Worship Service and Celebration starts at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, July 9, when Metropolitan Praise Dancers will perform.
Ordained in 1992, Rev. Robertson is associate pastor at Hobson United Methodist Church on Clarksville Highway. After graduating from Vanderbilt’s Divinity School, she was the first full-time director for Metropolitan’s First Response Center, enhancing programs, policies and procedures.
Metropolitan Interdenominational is known for being inclusive, reconciling and engaged. It’s attracted a broad cross-section of people, cutting across barriers that fragment and divide the body of Christ.
The congregation gathered for its first worship service on Feb. 1, 1981.
“For our first six years, we were a migratory people,” Sanders says. They met in Washington Junior High School, Westwood Baptist Church and Maxwell House Hotel. When there was no room in the hotel, “We worshipped in the woods.”
One hundred members “moved into this space for which we spent $250,000,” says Sanders. “We served as our own general contractor and employed skills of an artisan … to reflect what we are…” The building “is almost like being in the forest in the middle of the city.” The main hall accommodates worship, performances, meetings, discussions, youth sleep-overs and parties for special populations.
The church leases space for its First Response Center, 1219 9th Ave., for child advocacy, Girl Scouts, tutoring, social justice, support groups, sexual violence recovery and health care, especially for those with infectious diseases.
“We are a little church that does big things,” Sanders says. “We are known … because of our work in HIV/AIDS with some ministry in the Caribbean.” Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, MD, coordinator of U.S. activities to combat HIV/AIDS, consulted with Metropolitan Interdenominational’s members and friends during March 2015.
“And, we’re the church that did, when nobody else would, hold a memorial service for James Earl Ray,” Sanders says. “The King family sent a representative to the funeral… We have done ministry as did Jesus Christ who was engaging; transforming the lives of people who the world was dismissing.”
This “church of anybody” is in the big bend of the Cumberland River. It’s close to downtown and within a 20-minute drive from anywhere in Nashville, Sanders says, noting “the mad rush toward gentrification.”