The little church that could

DETROIT – It's weathered its share of storms, but like the tree that's planted by the water, Full Truth Fellowship of Christ church shall not be moved from its mission and purpose.
The church celebrated its 15-year anniversary this past weekend with three days of services, two of which took place under a tent in the heart of Palmer Park. About 50 people showed up on Friday, and Saturday, well, "Saturday was just amazing," said Rev. Darlene Franklin, the church's pastor for the past four years. "There had to be at least 110 people under there. Then people around the park were holding hands in prayer and coming closer. It was just awesome."
Franklin's wife, Antoinette Foster-Franklin, whom the members of the church affectionately refer to as the "first lady," agreed.
"The spirit of the Lord was all up in that place," she said. "It was a wonderful, spirit-filled celebration."
While it would have been a good opportunity to introduce herself to the community in the park, Franklin did not preach at either of the services.
"I did that intentionally," she said. "Even though I invited the other pastors from our local churches that minister to the LGBT community, I purposely did not ask any of us to preach. Rev. DaVita McAllister from Atlanta's First Congregational Church and Pastor Leslie Jones from [Full Truth's associate church Truth and Destiny in] Cincinnati preached. I think that all of us who minister to the LGBT community here need to hear a fresh word. We need to hear from people who may not have what we have, in terms of the spiritual outreach to the LGBT community. We needed to hear how blessed we are."
On Sunday, about 125 came out to Full Truth to witness Franklin ordain three clergy members, including Minister Inger Davis, Minister Vedra Dortch and Deacon Tee Ford.
"In 15 years Full Truth has had three pastors and the founding pastor and this seems like this has been basically one of the most stable periods, and I don't think it has a whole lot to do with me – and then maybe it might, but I think this is stable time," said Franklin, reflecting on the church's history. "Each time the church has gone through a new pastor it's like starting over. So it's like Full Truth is, to me, in a sense, four years old – the last year and a half it's been really rough. We have had some people move on – a significant number of people – and usually we call it church split, church transition, but it was simply church purging of going to the next level of being committed to serve in the body of Christ. We weathered that storm. So now, we're really seeking God's face, really hearing from the community and really being challenged to come out of our little box. That's what happened out here Saturday. Instead of us sitting out here Saturday and listening to a good sermon, just the church members, we were challenged to go outside of this tent and ask somebody, 'Do you really know Jesus Christ.' It was a beautiful, beautiful time for us all."
So what is the next level for Full Truth?
"The next level for the community body of Full Truth is to actually be out on the highways and byways seeking Gods people, actually doing what we were called to do, transcending this sense of the 'gay church' stuff and really going out and challenging people to get know Christ and living in the full truth of their lives.
"On a pastoral level and a leadership level," Franklin continued, "we need to start intermingling or dialoguing with those in mainstream churches, that we are here and we're not going anywhere and so you really must take a look at us, challenging those gay folks who are in their churches, don't leave those churches, stand up and challenge those leaders to spread God's gospel without judgment, the way we have been called to do. That's kind of a tall order for us but that's kind of where we're headed."
In her time with the church, Franklin has received lots of "tall orders." She's been with the church 11 years, possibly longer than anyone in her congregation. What keeps her there? That's an easy one.
"God," she said. "Just God. I've actually, in the last three to four months, I've been considering leaving Full Truth. I am burned out, but in this revival God has spoken to me and reminded me that people who have pastored their churches 20 or 30 years have probably been burned out three or four times. So I keep listening for God to say 'Job well done. You can go on and do what you really want to do.' But I've settled some things in myself this weekend. This is not an occupation it's a vocation, number one, which is the title of my book, 'What To Do When You're Burned Out and God Says Keep Going.' I am truly burned out, but God says, 'You're not done here.'"