Redmond Presbyterian Church shortly after she moved to Washington about a year ago. The service she attended was rather traditional with hymns and responsive readings. Because of this, she continued to visit churches over the next several months. One church she visited had only six people in attendance. At another the pastor “friended” her on Facebook after just one visit. At another, she wasn’t sure if the attendees thought Jesus was just a really nice guy. (Paige also kindly wrote a post with some observations from her search.)
Paige appreciated that it was a relatively small church, and people were friendly. Though small, the church is involved in many community outreach programs. The church ministers to the local men’s shelter and retirement community, and they are involved in local food programs.
And she also appreciates that she’s had opportunities to serve at RPC. At another church Paige visited, she was told that before teaching Sunday School, she would need to attend for a year before she would be considered for the position. She understood the need to be careful about who ministers to children, but she didn’t want to wait that long. At RPC there was a need for Sunday School teachers, and she volunteered. The church ran a background check, but she was soon able to work. She was happy to be able to serve.
The church does have events that encourage that sense of community. Next Sunday, there will be a church picnic, with a cakewalk, horseshoes, and a watermelon eating contest. (There will also be a “bean bag toss” which is the correct name for the game. In the midwest the game is often called “cornhole” which sounds like something that could be found on Urban Dictionary, so that should not be.) I believe that a nonperishable food item is the “admission price” for the picnic.
Children stay for the first part of the worship service. The pastor, the Rev. Dr. Larry Grounds, called the children forward for children’s sermon “Windows to the Kingdom.” He brought out a ventriloquist’s doll from a bucket. Apparently the doll, Benny, has been to church before because Dr. Grounds said he knew the kids knew Benny well. Dr. Grounds practiced a kind of ventriloquism that I believe I could handle. He leaned over to listen to Benny who whispered into his ear, then Dr. Grounds told us what Benny had said -- so moving lips was not a problem at all. The theme of the children’s sermon was the same as the adult sermon, “Accepting Your Acceptance,” God’s grace. The children were then dismissed to Sunday School. (Paige took the morning off since we were there.)
He said there was just one thing he wanted to say about the subject. “We live in KIng County, which is a very liberal county. Here the highest value promulgated is ‘tolerance.’ Now understand, I think tolerance is importance. But for Christians that is not the highest value. The highest value is ‘love.’”
During the sermon another illustration made Mindy and me turn to each other and smile. He talked about Sue Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy, who grew up going to taverns with her parents. As a child, she watched people in taverns forming relationships -- which formed a basis for her future therapy theories. Dr. Grounds said people go to bars for community like they go to church go community. (And he hasn’t even read our bar blog where we’ve been making that very point all year.)
Their study came to the conclusion that “We are a small but powerful community of believers who value substance over style and who center ourselves on relationships...God calls Redmond Presbyterian Church to be accepting and non-threatening, focused on being a highly relational church family, devoted to Christ and one another.”
Our daughter Paige has been impressed with what she has seen of the transition process. I trust with a new pastor, the church will continue “seeking to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ,” just like it says on their bulletin.
Sermon length: 25 minutes
Service length: 1 hour 9 minutes
Visitor treatment: A woman greeted us and introduced herself shortly after we came into the sanctuary. During the time labeled “Sharing the peace of Christ with one another,” many people came up to greet us, and people seemed to go out of their way to greet people who weren’t sitting near them (most greetings were “Peace of Christ be with you,” with a few “good mornings”). Visitors were encouraged to fill out the visitor card on clipboards in each row. All were invited to go to the snack time after the worship service, though the location wasn’t well marked. Mindy went to the upstairs hallway where the treats were set out, and nobody spoke to her at all.
Follow up by Tuesday morning: none
Our rough count: 83
Probable Ushers’ count: 87
Musicians: pianist (man)
Songs: “Praise Medley” (piano prelude)
“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”
“Jesus Loves me” (piano anthem)
“Verset” (piano offertory)
“Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow”
“Lift High the Cross”
“The Horn Pipe” (piano postlude)
Distance to church: 5 miles
Miles from start: 30,321
Total 2016 miles: 30,025