Our Session Clerk, Tim, recently visited our brothers and sisters at La Jolla Christian Fellowship, San Diego. Here is His account of his adventures over the pond.
What went before: Many of you know Adam Stadtmiller already. He is the Senior Pastor at La Jolla Christian Fellowship (LJCF) in San Diego, USA. He has worshiped with us in Edinburgh a few times. Last October, he and Pastor Sean ran a Holy Spirit Workshop with us and sat in on a Kirk Session meeting.
Setting the Journey: I had a week of annual leave to use or lose. I had a standing invitation from LJCF (we all do!) and my lovely wife’s blessing for me to enjoy a week’s holiday in the sunshine. So off I went to San Diego.
First Impressions: The building is similar to ours: old wooden panelling and pews (light brown, not our dark stain), the rear ones replaced by a foyer and glass wall. And the LJCF church family themselves? They are us! I had a strong sense of not just a warm welcome, but of being amongst family. It wasn’t a smothering welcome, but a familiar one of genuine affection; as if we had always known each other even though some of us had only just met. It was lovely to meet people who have been praying for us and our church.
The First Sunday: I positively revelled in praising and adoring our Saviour, Jesus, surrounded by this family, drinking in new yet familiar surroundings. I have watched their services on-line for some years, choosing a pew at the back of their church and gradually being encouraged to move forward as I became more involved (on-line Scripture readings and devotionals for them). Now I was in that seat near the front, joining them in person as we praised God. Life is good! I delivered our gift – a communion cloth in Church tartan with a verse that was supposed just to represent our thrill at the link with LJCF, but which spoke a deeper note to them as it was the very verse they had chosen this year as part of a ‘unity response’ to civil unrest in the USA last year. The verse is at the end of this article. That alignment was an astonishing moment of blessing.
Through the Week: I sat in on a staff training day. Bathed in prayer and worship (the praise band leader was part of the training, so of course we had some praise songs!), we focussed on effective and efficient working – what must happen each week, what ideally happens and what (even though it has just ‘always been done’) is actually a bonus extra and should not be a priority. We had a Holy Spirit Workshop, similar to the one we held at SSCB. It was an amazing evening – the praise music not just an outpouring of worship but helping to set the tone. People came forward for prayer, connected with Holy Spirit, receiving healing, comfort and encouragement. Not a dry eye (of joy!) in the house.
The Second Sunday: Adam invited me to preach as it (a) allowed a different insight into the Word of God and (b) further introduced SSCB to LJCF. Despite the preaching, there was an amazing response of fellowship and simple interest in us. Prayer works, and I saw that to Pray Across the Pond yielded so many positive results beyond our own immediate requests of God.
The Follow-up: LJCF want to come and visit, and a group is looking at coming over, perhaps at the start of Advent. Are you interested? Can you help welcome them? They really are interested in us. They support us. They pray for us. They love us. Let’s return that through our own support, prayer and love. In unity, loving Jesus.
“How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
[from Timothy Pitt]