My Stories

Small Church with a Big Heart

A major church split. The church went from a Sunday School attendance of 100 for the year (including the summer) to 16 by the time our family got there. We made the attendance 20.

This was my second pastorate. The church was in a logging/lumber town of 30,000 in Washington State, and the police said half their calls came from that area. You see, we were on the “other side” of Beech Street. When the well-meaning pastors of the community ministerial association or the association of Baptist pastors asked me how things were going “over there,” I knew what they meant. The area was served by two churches: our Baptist church and a Four Square Gospel church a long block away.

At the time I arrived, I discovered that the members of the church had been on the periphery of church involvement and church attendance prior to the split. After the split, they realized they would have to get involved or close down the church. Fortunately, they decided to keep the church open after which my family of four arrived (the youngest had yet to be conceived).

The people of this small church in a struggling community had such a big heart. Over the course of the first two years, they started a clothes closet, a food bank, a women’s ministry, a Latinx outreach (with fourteen eventually attending) and English as a Second Language (ESL) with seventy-five mostly Southeast Asians enrolled.

There are many stories to share about this church – uplifting ones, mostly – that I’ll share in the future under the “My Stories” section of this blog. I think you’ll enjoy these true stories as you yourself cope with these strange days.

{Story behind the picture: This is not a picture of the church in the town mentioned above. Instead, it is a picture of the church in which many of my Norwegian forebears are buried. Fjortoft Kyrkje on the island of Fjortoft in Norway. Picture taken 2016.}

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