In the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Deems was a Methodist minister concerned
about the unchurched in New York City. He persuaded Commodore Vanderbilt to
underwrite the effort. Vanderbilt bought Deems a church building for $50,000.
That was a lot of money at that time. Vanderbilt deeded the church to Deems so
that no group of trustees could, as Vanderbilt put it, “bedevil” him
if he preached too hard on sin. (The Commodore never attended that particular
church himself!) Deems called it ‘The Church of the Stranger’. Today we think of
our churches as places where no one is a stranger — but Deems was targeting
people who thought of themselves as strangers not connected to the rest of
society nor to any church. But if one remembers the old song There’s a Stranger
at the Door
one might conclude that any church faces the danger that Christ,
Himself might feel out of place there, and in a very different and undesirable
way that church become The Church of the Stranger.

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About The Author

Robert Shannon, a retired preacher living in North Carolina, began preaching at the age of 16. He has preached in churches in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Florida, his longest ministry at First Christian Church of Largo Florida. Now in semi-retirement, he has preached regularly for churches in North Carolina and Tennessee. He has also contributed to kingdom work as a missionary to Eastern Europe and as a Bible College professor. He is past-president of the North American Christian Convention. Bob is the author or co-author of several books.

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