[img_assist|nid=139445|title=Cornerstone Church Sign – Brayton Drive|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=159]
During my March 8 visit to Cornerstone Church, I was treated to a warm greeting, a cup of coffee, a praying praise team, and a great Bible-based sermon. These things are not what I usually experience when visiting Anchorage churches, but this day they were present. Cornerstone offers easy access with their South Anchorage location on Brayton Drive just north of the convenient O’Malley Road. Pastor Brad Sutter and his church are clearly sharing their faith in a positive way.
I’ve been by Cornerstone Church’s location many times over the past few years and wondered what type of people met there. The facility is modern looking and easily seen from the Seward Highway. Looking them up on the internet, I quickly found their website with service times prominently displayed on the first screen. They offer plenty of parking close to the church.
[img_assist|nid=139446|title=Cornerstone Church Exterior|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=96]
Walking into the church I was cheerfully greeted by a warmly dressed woman who also opened the door for me which is unusual for my Anchorage church visits. It wasn’t a fluke as she continued to open the door for arriving guests and members. Spotting an array of coffee urns straight ahead I made a beeline for them. I asked the coffee tending volunteer what brand of coffee they used, expecting to hear the name of one of our great local roasters, but was told it was one of the mass-market brands that comes in a tin. The coffee was so-so, but many churches either do not offer it, or charge for it at their coffee bar.
Preparing to enter the church and not yet having a bulletin, I spotted those responsible for them, standing facing toward, not away from, the doors into the sanctuary. This odd position forced me to go around them and turn back facing them. The woman with the bulletin had the right idea when she said, “I don’t think I’ve met you two…”. I was by myself but the greeter had mistaken a woman standing close by as coming in with me. Her greeting was on the mark though, because it doesn’t put the visitor in the position of feeling they’ve been singled out as a new face. The worst of all things to say are, “Is this your first visit…” or “What is your name?”. With these great greetings I later queried Pastor Sutter as to whether or not they offer training for their greeters. He responded “No.” This natural greeting behavior is to be commended.
Music Fitting-Not Just Entertainment
The musical praise team was preparing to take the stage when I entered. The eight persons in the group formed a circle, joined hands, and prayed, an unseen behavior in many churches but spoke volumes to me. Most of the group played some instrument and also sang. Several fairly short contemporary Christian songs were sung just before the sermon. Well performed and a great complement to the service, the music was not entertainment but a blessing. Preceding the sermon was the obligatory “meet n’ greet” which I don’t particularly like nor do many other worshipers from my visiting experience. I asked Pastor Sutter why Cornerstone does this and he said it was to “Encourage people to begin to engage with each other in the hopes of further connection in the future.” Personally, I feel there are more natural ways to engage attendees.
Sutter preached from the Word. I’m reasonably certain he had notes tucked into his Bible, but the casual observer probably saw just the Bible. PowerPoint slides displayed the texts so there was limited page rustling, a quibble but an effective way to discourage regular attendees from bringing their Bibles to church. The focus of his remarks was 1 Peter 4:1-6. In an explanatory fashion and extemporaneous manner, he drew meaning from this passage of scripture. He began the sermon with an illustration about how Ermine were trapped, showing that to this animal, purity was more important than life itself, a quite fitting start to the sermon. No title for the sermon was given in the bulletin but later Pastor Sutter shared that the title was “Developing the Attitude of Christ”. According to Sutter, his style is suited to going through books or sections of the Bible. This sermon was certainly meaningful and appropriate and may be listened to here. This blog is not about theology but I will say that this pastor excels in making the Word easily understood.
The service closed with the pastor leaving the platform to replaced by the musical group for several more songs. I enjoyed my visit to this church and believe they offer a meaningful and relevant way of worshiping for an active group of Christians here in Anchorage.