Saturday, October 16, 2010

From the Back Pew: Church doesn't need walls

By Michael J. Arvizu

This weekend, St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Anglican Church will celebrate its first birthday.

How could this be, you ask, if the church has been a staple of the community for decades?

Last year, St. Luke's Anglican underwent what I like to call a sort of rebirth. The church lost its building in a court ruling. The church and its people were uprooted.

Like any tree taken from its original home, setting down roots again can be tricky. The roots need to be watered and taken care of. If we were to apply this same analogy to the people of St. Luke's Anglican, I would say their roots once again are thriving in mustard-tree proportions.

To be honest, I had all but completely forgotten about St. Luke's Anglican after my colleagues and I finished our reporting on the turmoil the church faced in its clash with its central organization. I knew the church's congregation had been worshiping in a small chapel at Glendale Seventh-day Adventist, under the pastoral guidance of the Rev. Rob Holman, but I had no idea it had already been a year.

Out of the blue last Thursday, I received an e-mail from Jeanne Erikson of St. Luke's Anglican's communications ministry inviting a reporter to attend the church's one-year anniversary celebration Oct. 17 at the Adventist church.

"We would like to extend an invitation…to come and attend our one-year anniversary celebration … so you can see for yourself how we are doing," e-mailed Debbie Kollgaard of St. Luke's Anglican's communication ministry.

But other than the invitation itself, what caught my eye was the title of the piece, "Church without Walls." That title took me back to the original interview I had with Holman in September 2008, when he had just arrived at St. Luke's Anglican. I asked him if he was worried about what might happen if the church were to lose its buildings. He admitted to me he was worried. Being displaced is never easy. But his belief is that people, not buildings, make a church.

"We'll worship in tents if we have to," he told me. With that kind of attitude, I think the congregation could hold services on an ice shelf in Antarctica and it would still feel like home.

So here's to you, St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Anglican Church. Next week, I'll write about what the church has been up to this past year, and what it felt like for them to be accepted and welcomed with open arms by the people of Glendale Seventh-day Adventist.

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU can be reached at (818) 637-3263 or e-mail michael.arvizu@latimes.com.

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