TrueNorth members admit sins of church

As First Friday vendors unpacked and local musicians tuned, Jay Armstrong lugged a confession booth through the street.

He had picked a spot for the booth far from any church, settling along Broad Street in front of Midtown Threds. This is no ordinary confession booth, Mr. Armstrong explained.

"We, the church, have been a bad representative of Christ," he said. "If people are going to see us as genuine Christians, we have some confessing to do."

Mr. Armstrong is a member of TrueNorth, a contemporary church that started in North Augusta in 2004. When members learned their pastor, the Rev. Steve Davis, titled his latest sermon series "Confessions of a Christian church!" they decided to take the title literally, remembering the book Blue Like Jazz , written by Donald Miller in 2003. The story tells of a reverse confession booth -- a place where church members confess to the public all the church has done to warp or distract from the heart of its message.

"People think we're judgmental, hypocritical, intolerant, anti-homosexual, convert-crazy, and sheltered," Mr. Armstrong said. "For the most part, they're right."

He wishes it wasn't so. "I just don't think that's what Christ stood for," he said.

That's essentially what he and TrueNorth volunteers said when they sat in the booth.

"I am not here for you to confess, but rather to confess to you about the church. I am sorry for how we have failed the world," volunteer Bob Bodie told anyone who entered the booth.

"For so long, we've worried about life after death, but most people are worried about life until death. Christ talked a lot more about the kingdom now than the kingdom then," Mr. Armstrong said. "We totally missed that boat. And we're sorry."

Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or kelly.jasper@augustachronicle.com.