Nestled in the heart of Central Valley California is a church that daily exemplifies community and growth. First CRC in Visalia, currently pastored by Rev. George Vink, is a vibrant and active congregation dedicated to serving the community around them while caring for the spiritual growth and well-being of their own members.
Planning worship for a special church celebration calls for a tricky blend of the ordinary and the extraordinary. On the one hand, you want the occasion to feel special and festive, to involve former members and special presenters. On the other hand, you want worship to represent your church’s regular worship life—which is what you’re celebrating in the first place.
A slightly misspelled sign at the rear of the sanctuary of Lao Unity Church, Sioux City, Iowa, encourages worshipers to remove their hats during worship. If you ask Keo Phommarath, one of Lao Unity’s two pastors, about the sign, he’ll take you back to Laos, homeland of most of the congregation, explaining that the Asian people who visit the church will understand the gesture.
What would President Benjamin Harrison have thought of an accordion and a mandolin playing during worship in his church? The former U.S. president probably wasn’t expecting that when he helped plan a new building for First Presbyterian Church in his hometown of Indianapolis, down the street from the house where he used to give campaign speeches on his front porch.
Kristy Ruthven has two titles at Princeton Christian Reformed Church: youth director and director of worship and music. In the eyes of Ruthven and her congregation, the two jobs are integrally linked. Princeton worships with a vision for intergenerational unity, and the task of reaching out to youth cannot be separated from the practice of worship.
Every Sunday morning at 10 a.m., worshipers fill wooden pews in the sanctuary that once housed Thirty-sixth Street Christian Reformed Church in Wyoming, Michigan, a Grand Rapids suburb.
Ninety minutes later, as the first group streams down the center aisle to shake hands with the pastor at the back of the church, another set of worshipers enters from doors on either side of the pulpit area.
Walking into the office of Scott Myers, the pastor of Westport Presbyterian Church, one is surrounded by books. In and of itself this is not unusual. What is distinctive about Myers’s office is that alongside the theological writings stands a significant collection of books on the visual arts. Rodin and Chagall, photography, painting, and sculpture all occupy prominent places both on his bookshelves and in the worship life of the church he serves in the historic district of Westport, Missouri.
Back in the 1970s, a big old church on the corner of Neland and Watkins in urban Grand Rapids faced an important decision—was it going to continue to provide a house of worship and a center of ministry in this neighborhood, or would it close its doors?
It’s 102 degrees Fahrenheit outside and you’re feeling every degree. Another car alarm goes off across the narrow, pothole-ridden street; you pay no mind and neither does the police unit that’s just rolled by. The inhabitants of row houses lined block after block spill out onto their front porch stoops because it’s hotter inside than out. A mother, too young to vote, cradles her infant as she watches her nieces and nephews joyously splash in the opened fire hydrant offering cool relief.
In the spring of 1970, Pastor Ray Rewerts of Fifth Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, challenged his congregation to initiate a ministry in the Grand Rapids area to a group of people who were not being reached through traditional outreach programs. Inspired in part by Robert Schuller’s ministry at a drive-in theater in California (the beginning of what became the Crystal Cathedral), Fifth’s congregation decided to open a drive-in ministry where people could worship in their cars.