CHICAGO, IL (January 7, 2010) – Services over the course of the holidays at two Evangelical Covenant churches captured the emotional ends of the spectrum.
A reflective service at Riverside Covenant Church in West Lafayette, Indiana, offered worshipers the opportunity to lament pain and loss that too often is overlooked amid the socially ordained expectation that people celebrate a “Merry Christmas.”
At Powell Valley Covenant Church (PVCC) in Gresham, Oregon, a large crowd jumped, jived, and shouted in the New Year to the sounds of five different bands.
The night before celebrating its two traditional Christmas Eve services, Riverside offered a “Blue Christmas” service.
Pastor Dan Teffey explains it is important to remember that not everyone is cheery during the holidays. Many people still are mourning the loss of a loved one, experiencing family dissolutions, trying to recover from job losses, and are dealing with major medical issues and other crises.
The Blue Christmas service was about “accepting people where they really are and holding out healing and hope,” Teffey says.
To see a video news report of the service, click here.
The atmosphere was different in Gresham, where 200 people rocked in the New Year’s Eve at a celebration that was far more fun than any lame TV network offering, says James “Der Bass player” Schmidt, who organized the event.
It’s not all that unusual to hear loud music at the church. Powell Valley holds “God’s House is Rockin’ Don’t Bother Knock’n Open Mic Nights” every second and fourth Friday of the month. (The name is taken from a Stevie Ray Vaughn barnburner.)
The bash ran from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission was free, but attendees were encouraged to bring cans of food the church would donate to a local food pantry, as well as new socks, used jackets and blankets to be donated to area charities.
The bands performed rock, classic rock, reggae, and alternative music, says Schmidt. The evening got louder and harder as the night got longer. “Pastor Jerry Love took out his hearing aids – cause he did not need them.”
Bands on the bill included two local worship bands, 1Cross, which performed Rockabilly, and Sanctuary, led by former PVCC worship pastor Joe Chase. Rounding out the evening were Affected, a metal band, Reggae artist IJenNeh, and Truth Be Told, a band that changes the lyrics to 70s rock classics.
Campus Pastor Jamie Worley emceed during set changes and offered everyone in attendance several opportunities to give their lives to Christ. “The Old Wooden Cross from National day of Prayer was bought up for people to nail those things that have been dogging them in 2009 so that God can take them in 2010,” Schmidt says.
The bands will perform again during the God’s House is a Rock’n summer concerts scheduled to be held on the sports field behind the church, Schmidt says.