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I was blown away by the warm greeting I received at Trinity Presbyterian Church on March 22. Eight people were there to warmly greet me from the outside entry to the sanctuary. This mid-Hillside church on Huffman offers a contemporary service engaging all of the senses. Worshipers are treated to a feast of music by a member-led band and praise team. Offering a musical blend of old and new, there is something here for everyone. A good mixture of all ages worship in a contemporary church setting of warmth and openness, further accentuated by light and color. The stained glass is a feast for the eyes. The preaching by Pastor Tom Letts was upbeat, and insightful. The “7 Minute Party” at the end of the service was a wonderful interactive hook. It hooked me and will hook you too if you try this church. You’ll have to read more, but I think you already get the point.
A Different Greeting
No Anchorage church I’ve visited greets like Trinity Presbyterian Church. The two outside doors were open and staffed by two friendly greeters. In the lobby I passed through two lines of three greeters each, of which one cheerfully handed me a bulletin. This is great. Having lots of greeters ensures everyone receives a greeting easily accommodating those floods of church goers that seem to happen. I was ready for more after entering, something I cannot honestly say in many Anchorage churches.
Lots of Smiles
I was struck by the smiles of the worshipers and the praise team/band in front. These people were extremely happy to be there, no doubt about it. In so many churches people are so sober and unsmiling, as if they are not really happy they came. Hey, there’s lots to be happy about. As far as I can see, Christianity offers the only true hope and assurance among all the religions the world has to offer. I’m not talking smug here but only that we have much to be happy about, especially as we enter Holy Week.
The band and praise team set a positive tone for the worship experience by leading the worshipers in singing a wonderful blend of traditional and newer songs. A dynamite brass section, piano, keyboard, drums and singers explored the beauty of “The Church Has One Foundation”, “Your Grace is Enough”, and “Prophet Song”. No syrup here, just pure Christian love. Clearly not entertainment and intended to be as essential as the worship. Even Pastor Tom Letts participates by playing great trombone in the four person brass section.
Trinity is obviously very family oriented with lots of children and youth. All ages were represented with older worshipers rubbing shoulders with singles. It was pleasing to see the mix. Even the “Meet ‘n Greet” was actually warmer than I usually experience.
Pastor Tom and his Associate Pastor, wife Tamara, present a unified front in addressing the congregation. She led out in various parts of the service. I very much appreciated her prayer. It is indeed unusual these days to find ordained couples working together in the ministry. This was gratifying to experience.
The church is currently reading, studying, and applying the six realities Reggie McNeal details in his recent book The Present Future.
1. Recapturing the spirit of Christianity
2. Replacing “church growth” with a wider vision of kingdom growth
3. Developing disciples instead of church members
4. Fostering the rise of a new apostolic leadership
5. Focusing on spiritual formation rather than church programs
6. Shift, from prediction and planning to preparation for the challenges in an uncertain world
Pastor Letts employed three young adults to read brief passages from The Present Future during the sermon, another example of a participative church. He observed a prevalent question asked by many churches, “How do we get them to come to us?”, is wrong. The real questions we should be asking, he noted, are “How do we grow Trinity to care for them?” and “How do we transform our community?”. Wow! That’s powerful!
Another young adult was brought on stage as Letts showed the following statement on screen.
“I am seeking to follow Jesus’ life of caring for others as he cared for me.” Megan H. UAA PB Sandwich Stand
The young adult was Megan H who described the Peanut Butter Sandwich Stand she helps staff at UAA. One day a week people like Megan give out peanut butter sandwiches for free at UAA because it is the right thing to do. No witnessing is expected, but the results are incredibly positive. This simple act epitomizes what Jesus was trying to demonstrate with his ministry.
The service ended with the beautiful hymn “How Wonderful, How Marvelous”. After a meaningful worship like I had just witnessed, this hymn underscored how thankful Christians can be for what they have. And did people sing in response.
And the “7 Minute Party”? You’ll have to attend Trinity Presbyterian to find out what it is.
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