CITYWIDE Church services are expanding in Santa Monica with new projects focused on alternative ways to bring residents into the fold.
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church has added several new services to its weekly schedule and an entirely new church, Resonate, is opening at Bergamot Station.
Rev. Eric C. Shafer recently took the helm at Mt. Olive and he is increasing the worship options at the church with a Saturday service, Recovery service, revised Jazz Vespers and a Blessing of the Animals ceremony in October.
The 45-minute Saturday service is an informal ceremony that is designed to appeal to residents who can’t make Sunday mornings. Shafer said families with kids are often booked on Sundays with sports so the Saturday service provides an opportunity for them to participate. The new service, at 5 p.m., has also drawn seniors for whom the morning service is difficult and travelers.
The church is also launching a new “Recovery” worship on the first Sunday of each month at 3 p.m.
The church hosts 18 recovery groups per week with more than 1,000 residents participating. While many recovery programs are not overtly “Christian” they often incorporate concepts of spirituality and a higher power so Shafer said the service will be a non-threatening, inclusive, informal and approachable way for anyone, in recovery or not, to participate in the church.
“It will be as approachable and informal as we can make it,” he said. “It’s open to all.”
The recovery worship will be in the Parish Hall rather than the main church.
Shafer will hold a Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 4 (St. Francis Day) at 5 p.m. He said residents are welcome to bring their animals to the service but he will also bless photos of pets that can’t make it in person or even stuffed animals for children who lack an actual pet.
Mt. Olive has hosted a Jazz Vespers for years but the Sunday evening service has been retooled. While still music heavy, it has a little more structure and includes a prayer, homily and quiet meditation.
Mt. Olive’s regular 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday service will remain as usual.
The new Resonate church at Bergamot station also incorporates music into its services, and Pastor David Cobia said creativity will be a cornerstone of the new church.
“Each church I’ve worked with has become known for its artistic focus,” he said. “We have hosted art galleries, have birthed music groups and CDs and stuff like that because we think that’s a key element of interconnecting with people in this post-modern and post-creative world.”
Resonate is part of the Los Angeles Church Planting Movement, a region wide project with the goal of establishing 119 new churches, one in each of the area’s major neighborhoods. Resonate will be based in Santa Monica but will hopefully draw from all over the Westside.
The church has been operating as a community service group with informal meetings for about a year but Cobia said their first official service will be Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m. He said the service is open to all and he hopes to build a reputation as a place that can cater to individuals who may not be inspired by traditional forms of worship.
“There’s a very unique role that we’re going to end up with here,” he said. “We’re going to bring a very contemporary feel to faith.”
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