Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Considering La Jolla Community Church

La Jolla Community Church

Just this past 29 April 2007, LJCC first worshiped at its permanent church home, and on 20 May, their fourth Sunday, the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Sunday after the Ascension, I trekked a couple miles north and visited La Jolla Community Church. A lot of LJCC-ers had been PC(USA)-ers, so everything was comfortably familiar to me: the liturgy was Service of the Word (sometimes called ante-communion or mass of the catechumens); font, table and cross visibly prominent in the chancel; in addition to some praise songs, we sang the famous Ascension hymn, "Crown Him with Many Crowns"; the preacher's remark "when we confess our faith in the words of the Apostles Creed we affirm the public truth..."; the choir sang "Now Sing We Joyfully" by Gordon Young. Wonderful music, very well performed, but after all, Worship and Arts Pastor Daniel Sharp has a doctorate and decades of experience! Pastor Dan also was the day's preacher since Pastor Steve was on a mission trip.

Everything seemed fresh, new and clean, and given that we're in the early 21st century, the conventional physical arrangement surprised me with chancel in front and a long nave divided by a center aisle. Exploring the website this afternoon I found:
Q. What is the history of the property and why was it up for sale?

A. Originally a Baptist Church, it was most recently owned by Horizon Christian Fellowship. Horizon has experienced the majority of their growth outside the Golden Triangle area and the Eastgate Mall site no longer fit into their long range plan. They were committed to having a church on the property and said that LJCC’s emphasis on outreach, discipleship and mission would be an excellent use for the site.

This is especially interesting since just two days ago I worshiped at Horizon.

Although LJCC is a recently-gathered and incorporated congregation, senior pastor Steve Murray had been at the nationally high-profile La Jolla Presbyterian for about ten years. Here's some info about LJCC:

Vision, Purpose, Promise

LJCC Essential Doctrines

Yes, relatively conservative, theologically, socially and probably politically, but I love the flowing elegance, ease and grace of their Essential Doctrines; with 19 points from God through eschatology; this is no static statement, and I don't need to say, "Oh, of course I agree with that—just need to reinterpret and recast a few words and phrases here and there."

The portal page of the website shows Pastor Steve holding a chalice and patten, witnessing to the congregation's "Word and Sacrament" identity, resonating and cohering with the denominational protestant mainline churches, right in step with the Reformer's definition of Church and, of course, right there with Pastor Steve's and much of the congregation's former affiliation with the PC(USA); preaching the lectionary lines up with the mainline churches, as well.

Because I had a free ticket to hear Hector Berlioz's Requiem at Symphony in the afternoon, I couldn't hang around after worship, but geographically, suburban La Jolla, technically a neighborhood of the city of San Diego as in, "San Diego 92037 or 92038," is part of the affluent Golden Triangle and many members of LJCC are from La Jolla Pres, making most of the congregation middle- to upper-middle class. All ages seemed evenly represented, and it wasn't as overwhelmingly female as a lot of churches. On a patio table I found a stack of NIV Daily Bibles ... "The Complete New International Version in 365 Daily Readings" as a gift for first-time visitors, so I took one, thinking it would be helpful to dip into the day's passages.

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