Category Archives: Anchor Church

Business-Casual Communion

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Folks with a “high church” bent do communion better than we United Brethren, who take a “business casual” approach to communion. This was apparent last Sunday, when Anchor and five other Protestant churches in our 46808 zip code held a joint service in a local park (as we’ve been doing for several years).

The Presbyterian and United Methodist pastors led communion. I appreciated the solemnity they gave to the experience, the traditional motions, the way the loaves were broken in front of everybody. For me, it gives the experience more gravitas. Yes, they wore bluejeans and sneakers, but they still pulled off making it a holy moment.

But maybe partly, it’s just a matter of experiencing something different. If some of those Presbyterians and United Methodists participated in communion at a United Brethren church, perhaps they would find our business-casual approach to be refreshing. Perhaps.

And I must remember that the original Last Supper was just a meal. Jesus didn’t turn on worship music, lower his voice to a more authoritative level, and break into a special service. They were eating, and he said they should think of him whenever they ate. That’s a bit simplistic perhaps, but we United Brethren tend to be simplistic.

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Palm Sunday Afternoon at St. Francis U

I'm pretty much hidden behind Aaron Vergon, clear over on the right. But I'm there, keyboarding away.

I’m pretty much hidden behind Aaron Vergon, clear over on the right. But I’m there, keyboarding away. (click to enlarge)

On Palm Sunday, 4pm in the afternoon, Anchor Church did a service on the campus of St. Francis University, about a mile down the road from us. Several churches in our zip code had done this, each service a month apart, as a way for Protestant students at St. Francis (a Catholic school) to get acquainted with some of the nearby churches. Palm Sunday was our turn.

Associate Pastor Kevin Whitacre did a great job with the sermon, starting off with a drama in which he put himself in the position of one of the thieves crucified with Jesus. It was very effective.

The Anchor worship team led the music. We greatly enjoyed the big auditorium and spacious stage (compared to the little cubby hole we have at the front of Anchor’s sanctuary). It required carting around and setting up a lot of equipment, but it was fun.

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Beyond the Comfortable

Andy Stanley, a prominent pastor in Georgia, wrote in his new book Deep and Wide, “I love everything we do and I love the way we do it. But that doesn’t make it right. That just makes it comfortable. Predictable. But perhaps ineffectual.”

Last week, Anchor’s worship team practiced with the worship team of a nearby black church. We’re doing a joint service together on Dec 23. I found it discombobulating, somewhat uncomfortable. They are just so different from us. But they have an extravagant passion for Jesus. And to the credit of our worship team, though we found the experience foreign and out of our comfort zone, we also found it to be exhilarating. I can’t wait to practice with them again on Thursday night.

I like how we do things at Anchor. I like our music, our style, our patterns. It’s all comfortable for me. But that doesn’t make it the right way to do things, nor the best way to do things.

It’s good to be stretched and thrown off balance.

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Anchor Soup with Santa

Pam and I got our picture taken with Santa during Anchor’s December 19 “Soup with Santa” after-church potluck.

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Letter Jacket Glory Days

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Me and Jenny Vergon with our high school letter jackets. Be true to your school!

This morning at Anchor, we had a schooldays theme. Pastor Tim recognized everyone who is attending school, and everyone who works in a school setting. The message was directed to the younger children, who then all received a pack of crayons. We’ve been collecting school supplies for kids for a while, in cooperation with Grace Presbyterian. Those supplies were given out at Grace this afternoon.

After Tim passed out the crayons, the worship team did the Beach Boys song, “Be True to Your School.” Two of us on the worship team remembered to bring our high school letter jackets–me, and Jenny Vergon. Jenny’s jacket still fit great, but mine was pretty tight. However, I squeezed it on.

I played two years of varsity tennis at Tulare Union High School in Tulare, Calif. We were co-champs of the East Yosemite League both years. We then won outright in a playoff both years, thereby earning the chance to compete in the San Joaquin Valley championship, where we ended up 3rd or 4th each year. Glory days. However, the patches on our jackets still said “co-champs.” I was captain my senior year, which gave me an additional star.

I always loved wearing that jacket. Even when I earned a college letter jacket after my freshman year, I preferred wearing my high school jacket with all the additional bling. Call me insecure. Yeah, I probably was. This made a skinny kid feel (if not look) like a real athlete.

Last summer, I threw out my college letter jacket after removing the big “H.” The cheap lining in the sleeves was disintegrating, leaving red specks everywhere. A hopeless cause. But my high school jacket was still tucked away in a storage bin, where Pam located it last night before church.

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Anchor: Cleaning Up Our Neighborhood

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Yesterday (May 15), 17 people from Anchor helped clean out the alley behind our church. It was part of the city-wide Great America Cleanup.

We kept two pickups going up and down the alley, one being my Dodge Dakota. Once filled with stuff–mostly leaves and branches–we drove to the church and dumped it all in the church parking lot. The city will come by and pick it up…eventually. Maybe. If they get around to it.

Since I had knee surgery last week, I just drove the truck. None of the grueling work. Didn’t want to push it (though I did anyway, mostly in unloading the truck, and iced my knee once I got home).

Everyone else worked real hard. It was a fun time. We started at 8:30, and by 11:00 had gone the entire length of the alley. The place looks great.

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I Really Really Dislike Your Pews

pews.JPGDo you realize how uncomfortable your wooden church pews are? I don’t care how much padding you added to them, because it’s never enough. They’re too narrow, too hard, the backs are terribly uncomfortable, and there’s not enough leg room. Probably. Maybe. I’m generalizing.

You don’t notice, because you’re used to your pews. Discomfort is the norm. But not so for me.

The past two weeks, I’ve been in churches with wooden pews. I find myself constantly squirming, trying to get comfortable. I continually adjust, twisting this way and that, crossing my legs one way and then the other, never fully satisfying (for long) the complaints of my back and tailbone.

The lack of leg room can be pitiful, too, especially as you bump knees and shins on protruding hymnal racks. It’s almost as bad a flying coach, except that pews don’t recline and there’s no neck support, no contours, no pillows, no armrests…. Come to think of it, it’s a lot worse than flying coach.

I say this reluctantly, because I fully acknowledge the validity of all of these statements:

  • It’s unspiritual to be comfortable during worship.
  • The churches in Acts had pews.
  • A church with pews is more worshipful than a church without.
  • The more ornate the wood, the more sacred the sanctuary.
  • The Holy Spirit is far more present in churches with pews.
  • If Jesus could hang on a cross for me, how can I complain about an hour sitting in a wooden pew?

We’re spoiled at Anchor. When Anchor went through its “restart” in 1998, the wooden pews were yanked from the floor and replaced with green, heavily-padded chairs (like the one above). I can sit in them for hours without discomfort, whether sitting up straight or in my usual slouch. The cushioned seat is very wide, thereby accommodating persons who are amply endowed on the backside. We shallow, carnal churchgoers can fully concentrate on the sermon without once thinking about our aching backs or tailbones.

So when I go to a church with pews, I really struggle. I just can’t get comfortable.

And that’s probably how your church’s visitors feel. They check out your service, and the lasting impression is, “Those pews really suck.”

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Our Annual Super Bowl Party, 2010 Edition

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For several years now, Pam and I have hosted a Super Bowl party. This year’s attendees were a bunch of young adults from Anchor, with a few friends thrown in. Oh, and three preschool boys. Four of them were new this year. Click on the photo for a larger view.

At least three of them were rooting for the Saints. So next year’s list just got a little shorter.

You can see a lot more photos from the party on Facebook.

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Why Anchor is Such a Cool Church

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Pam and me at Anchor on Super Bowl Sunday.

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The worship team. Terry (far left) hadn’t donned his Marshall Faulk jersey yet. We’re practicing the “We Will Rock You” stomp-stomp-clap, stomp-stomp-clap.

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Lots of Colts fans at Anchor.

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The kids come wandering through the sanctuary during sermon sequel, learning about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

Anchor is a great church for a lot of reasons. Super Bowl Sunday showed some of them.

  • We were all encouraged to come to church clad in our Colts stuff, and a good number of us did–jerseys, T-shirts, hoods, jackets. Five of the eight worship team members wore the blue and white.
  • To create a stadium atmosphere, we preceded the first song with the greatest stadium song of all time–“We Will Rock You.” Stomp stomp clap, stomp stomp clap. The congregation did that four times, then sang “We will, we will, rock you” four times. And THEN we started into the first worship song. At Anchor, we want to rock your world!
  • A lot of our people come from dysfunctional family situations. Pastor Tim turned over the sermon to a friend, who gave his testimony of growing up in a dysfunctional home, and of his efforts to deal with his father in reconciliation and forgiveness. Nobody could relate exactly with his situation, but parts of it, I’m sure, touched a great many listeners who also struggle with reconciliation, forgiveness, and what it means to honor parents who, from a worldly standpoint, don’t deserve honor.
  • In place of an adult Sunday school, we have what we call “sermon sequel.” The children leave for an instruction time, but the adults stay put for an informal time of building on the sermon. Almost NOBODY leaves. I doubt that anyone left today. How many churches can say that their Sunday school attendance matches their worship attendance?
  • Halfway through the sermon sequel, the back doors of the sanctuary opened and all the children came wandering in, led by Tara Hallman and a child carrying a crooked staff. They were being taught about Moses and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. They wandered down the aisle and out a side door at the front of the sanctuary. Just a fun little interlude.
  • When sermon sequel ended and the children had rejoined us, we sang our own version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

When the Colts, go marching in,
Oh when the Colts go marching in.
How I’d love to be in Miami,
When the Colts go marching in.

Then we sang one final song, and dismissed. It was another great Sunday at Anchor.

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Christmas Gifts for Anchor

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Pam with this year’s Christmas gifts for Anchor (click photo to enlarge).

This morning, December 20, the congregation opened gifts for Anchor Community Church. We put a Christmas tree in the foyer with ornaments containing a gift idea for the church–paper towels, Kleenex, dish soap, coffee, toilet paper, staples, cleaning supplies, trash bags, reams of paper, etc. These are inexpensive, everyday items the church needs. You take an ornament, buy that product, wrap it up, and bring it to church.

All of the gifts lay at the front of the church throughout the service. At the end of today’s service, the children came up and passed out the gifts to adults in the congregation. The adults unwrapped the gifts, and the children brought them back to the altar. That’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s a very festive atmosphere, with Christmas music playing and general gaiety, with children constantly running back and forth.

I enjoy seeing new people get involved. I remember one young couple, fairly new to the church, who brought gifts last year. It warmed my heart, showing me that they were invested in Anchor–that this was their church. This morning, a woman who has been coming for a few months brought her gifts to the front of the church before the service. Warm again. It’s just a cheap gift, maybe only a few dollars, but it’s a tangible way a person says, “I’m part of Anchor and want to support it.”

Plus, it meets an actual financial need for Anchor. These items would otherwise come out of the church budget.

We’ve been doing this for about ten years, though we missed a few years. I actually came up with the idea, but as is usually the case in households where the husband is a lazy bum, the wife does all the work. Pam gathers gift ideas from people at church, runs off labels, sticks them on spongy ornaments she buys at Michael’s, and places them on a tree in the foyer. I  do help with parts of that, but don’t take much credit. It wouldn’t happen without Pam.

Here are some more photos. Click on the thumbnail on the left to enlarge. A lot more photos (taken by me) can be found on the Anchor Community Church Facebook page.

gifts_wrapped1200.jpg The wrapped gifts brought to Anchor today.
gifts_1000.jpg The wrapped gifts for Anchor.
anchorcongregation_1000.jpg We had a great attendance today.
childrengifts_1000.jpg The children bringing gifts back to the front of the church.
nehers_1000.jpg Paul and Sarah Neher with gifts they opened.
pamlisa_1000.jpg Pam and Lisa Sutton, in the sound booth. They wore Santa hats today.
stevepiano_1000.jpg Tom Ayres insisting on taking a photo of some old guy playing the piano with the worship team.
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