Home > Uncategorized > church of uber – EVE

church of uber – EVE

Very recently, Patti, Michael and Kathy Hindes, and I jumped into car with a Lyft driver named Eve. I didn’t order the car—not with my phone anyway—so don’t give me grief about it. It was a ride share.  So just deal with it.

Eve immediately started chatting us up, and someone in the back seat asked where she was from. Eve grew up in Philadelphia and had fairly recently moved to Atlanta. She gave us a brief rundown, and then I starting popping off about how much I love Philadelphia. It’s been 17 years since I’ve been there, but I remember my time in Philly like it was yesterday. Eve asked, “What did you like about it?”  I told her about a couple of strong memories of my stay in Philadelphia. One of those memories involved an excursion to hire a taxi to take myself, Andrew Shearman, and David Fredriksz to find my seventh-generational grandfather’s home on the south side of Philly. That was back in February of 2003, so picture a cold, snowy landscape in a somewhat sleepy town on a Sunday morning.

  1924 drawing of the Paschall House

This whole hunt for the “Paschall House” started when one of my dad’s cousins (who I’d never met) sent my dad a letter, having discovered the story of the house during her genealogical research of our family tree. When my dad found out that I was going to be in Philly, he sent me a handwritten letter—not only of the lineage of the original owner of the land (Elijah Paschall – my seventh-generational grandfather), but also the actual address of the house. Evidently, the land had been purchased from William Penn by my ancestor. I remember Dad telling me to look for the historical marker on the house (built in 1732), and if I could figure out how to get into the house, to check out all the doors and hardware (original still).

I had no idea if I would be able to make time for such an excursion. But when the opportunity actually presented itself, Andrew, Dave and I hopped in the taxi and rode the short 30 minutes to the house.  We were on the economically-depressed side of Philly now. These were primarily minority neighborhoods, and the the taxi driver asked more than once if we had the address correct: 6840 Paschall Ave. I remember the driver saying, “It’s not the safest part of Philly.” Regardless, we rolled.

As soon as we arrived, we got out of the taxi, but asked the driver to wait. It was cold, and we weren’t really dressed for the weather. There was a short iron fence around the front of the house that we entered through, onto the front lawn (which had about a foot of snow). I had one of those digital cameras that used a small floppy disk. I was taking pictures of the front of the house, especially of the historical marker. I even went onto the front porch to see if the door hinges were visible. But then suddenly, as if out of nowhere, I looked up to discover five large black men standing in the yard with us.

 

A decent picture of the front of the house, but the best picture is provided by Google Maps.

 

“Can we help you?”  They were all dressed in Sunday clothes.  I began to explain why we were on the lawn, and they told me that the house was now serving as the Administration/Education Building for the Mt. Moriah Apostolic Church. Sure enough, there was a new worship sanctuary on the backside of the house. I don’t think I had even noticed that it was back there.

I went on to explain my family’s connection to the house, and to reassure them that we meant no harm. I’m pretty sure I mentioned that we (Andrew, Dave, and myself) were ministers. After a few minutes of chit-chat, they said, “Please come with us.  Our pastor is going to want to meet you.”  So, we waved the taxi off, and went into church.

Church was just wrapping up, but of course, they marched us in as honored guests to an empty few in the front half of the church. There were formal introductions, and I was invited to the pulpit to tell the congregation why we had interrupted the service with all of our commotion. There was a lot of applause, and lots of friendly faces. It was sort of surreal, but totally wonderful.

 

 

Everyone in the house greeted us after the service before they filed out of the church. As we turned to walk out, a man came up to me and asked if we wanted to go into the house. Of course we did!  We headed to the back door, when a very tiny, elderly woman (my guess is she was around 90 years old) motioned me over to the pew where she was sitting. I slid in beside her, and she introduced herself. Her beautiful white hair was pulled into a fuzzy bun, and it made the etches on her dark skin so captivating. She was lovely, and I loved her immediately. She said, “I know something you don’t know about the Paschall house.”  She said, “Honey, that house was used for the underground railroad before the Civil War. I have family that made it here to Philly because that house was here. There was a trench from the basement that led to the river, so that small boats could transport people to and from that house after dark. A lot of my people got here because of what went on in that house.”

I could only hug her. I just didn’t have any words. It felt like a dream. As steeped in white privilege as I was, and admittedly still confronting, I honestly feel a token of honor with that bit of trivia, and I seriously doubt that all of the lineage, on both side of my family tree warrants those warm sentiments.

The house was three levels, with a basement.  Sure enough, almost everything in this house was still original – the doors and hardware, the nails in the wood, the beams in the attic…

Down in the basement, you could see the multi-colored bricks that were used to repair the once functional opening into the basement. I took a couple of dozen digital pictures which I no longer possess. I have no idea where those pictures ever ended up. We’ve moved a few times since 2003 [help me Jesus].

After saying our goodbyes, my friends and I caught another taxi to The Hard Rock Café for lunch, and I flew back to Colorado Springs later that afternoon.

 

 

After telling my Philly story, Eve (along with the rest of my support group in the backseat of our Lyft) all agreed together that I should put this story onto paper.  So here it is in all of its glory. Seventeen years ago. Crazy!

Once back in Wyoming, I started digging around on Google maps to see if I could find the house again. I did!  And, I found some other supporting documentation. The church is on Facebook. The house looks exactly the same as I remember.

The other memories of Philly?  There are three:

  1. My first time to drink Chimay (Belgium Trappist) on tap.  One of the finest Belgium beers ever made.
  2. Mahogany on Walnut. Maybe my favorite cigar bar of all time. (You had to have been there, and I’m sad to say it isn’t open anymore. That place was magic.)
  3. I got a prophecy from some dear brothers who I didn’t really know, that eventually turned my world (and Patti’s) upside down (long story, but a GREAT story… looking back).

          “Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backwards.”           Søren Kierkegaard

 

I’ve been thinking. Maybe the Church of Uber wasn’t just about my driving Uber. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with Uber, or Lyft, or any other rideshares. Maybe it’s more about being good with what you can’t see coming—can’t control, shouldn’t control—and ultimately trusting that “person-to-person” encounters on this orb can be good seedbeds for the interruption of God’s grace. It just gets weird when we force our religious voodoo onto people (believe me, I have been there and done that).  But, if you’re willing to ride along (or offer a ride to someone else), in order to add value in any way to this crazy-ass world we live in, then maybe… just maybe… the “God juice” on your life will open the doors of God’s beautiful mysteries and invitations. That seems like something we can all do with humility, surrender, and love.

That 24 minutes with Eve was so refreshing. In fact, I got out of the car and said to Michael, “That’s why… right there. That’s why I kept driving Uber for 3 years.” The inner man loved it all over again.

Thanks for listening to my tale!

 

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

BE GOOD AT LIFE!

 

Love you all,

Mike

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. sandalwes
    March 9, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Now that’s a great story. Giddyup!

  2. Jeff McLeod
    March 9, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Wowzer; just spine-tickling cool on so many fronts!

  3. Darci
    March 9, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Woah – that gave me chills! What an incredible gift that house was and is! Love you!

  4. Kami Erland
    March 9, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Beautiful story. Funny how things connect at times.

  5. March 9, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    I think you are due for another Philly trip soon! I know a family thatd put you up! Much love.

  6. March 9, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks Mike LOVED IT, thanks for sharing!

    Mark Spring,Montana

  7. Dana Henderson
    March 10, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Love your stories!!

  8. Victoria
    March 10, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    I loved reading this story so much !!

  9. Christi-An Hansley
    March 14, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    Got so excited when I saw a new post from you!!! Thank you for sharing!!! I love listening to your story’s!!! And oh man are they always on point of where I’m at in my walk with God!! Like the part about not trying to control my future but letting it go and really trusting Him!!! 😁 yay!!!!

    • March 14, 2020 at 8:47 pm

      Great to hear from you Christi-An! Much love

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