Last week the Broomfield Enterprise, the local paper for one of Denver's suburbs, published a piece about the wonderful welcome offered by The Journey - a local Seventh-day Adventist congregation. Local religion columnist George McHendry called it "one of the best-kept church secrets in my years of writing this column."
Adventists get different kinds of media attention, from health news to news about evangelistic campaigns to legal battles. This was a unusually nice review of a church being a church - in a less traditional setting.
Here is McHendry's column:
In my quest to check out the church scene in Broomfield, I might have come upon one of the best-kept church secrets in my years of writing this column. In doing some research, I discovered there is a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Broomfield that I knew nothing about. When I drove by the address of The Journey Adventist Church, I discovered why I knew nothing about the church. The Journey on Saturdays is using the campus of the Good News Community Church, 5511 W. 136th Ave.
Seventh-day Adventists believe the first day of the week is Sunday, which means Saturday is the Sabbath. I found the website for The Journey and went to its service Saturday morning. Bible Study begins at 10 a.m., worship begins at 11:15 a.m. and book study is at 2 p.m. Saturdays.
When I showed up at around 11 a.m., I was greeted by a few friendly folks who offered me a cup of coffee and answered a few questions. They also introduced me to Pastor Mark Matthews, and he welcomed me with a warm smile and a firm handshake. I have been at the location on Sundays for Good News services, but the seating arrangement for The Journey was completely different. Gone were the standard rows of seats, and in their place were small tables. On those tables were bowls of popcorn. The atmosphere is casual and the setting resembles a night club (without the alcohol) more than a church, but as I was about to find out, The Journey takes its worship of God and Jesus Christ very seriously.
Matthews explained that Elder Will Dickerson was preaching the message, but Matthews was certainly an important part of the service. He plays guitar and is lead singer for "Praise at the Journey." He was joined on stage by his wife, Lise, (also the church administrator), as well as David (bassist) and Yvonne (vocals) Turner.
I quickly discovered the church's band is very good. The music is contemporary, but it is "low key" compared to contemporary music at many other churches these days. Halfway through the worship set, they took a break and invited the 30 or so folks in attendance to greet each other and have some of the snacks being served in the foyer. Once we regrouped in the sanctuary, there were more songs. They worshiped with their music for almost an hour, and I was sorry to see that portion of the service come to an end.
Next up was Elder Dickerson, and he amazed me when he began his message titled "Amen: Do you Believe?" with a capella singing that displayed his fantastic voice. That was followed by a message based on 1 Kings 18 and John 11 and 17. When the service was over, just about everyone thanked me for coming and encouraged me to return. I promised I would, and I will.
There are a number of beliefs that make the Seventh-day Adventist Church different than many conventional Christian denominations. One of those is the belief about death. This is from the official site of the Seventh-day Adventist world church: "For followers of Christ, death holds no fear. Remember, Jesus defeated death on Calvary and has given us freedom from death. Cemeteries, then, are filled with followers of God who are in the 'peaceful pause before the resurrection.' Yes, they are dead, but that death holds no power over their future. Jesus is coming to take them (and those of us who are still living) home. Death is almost like a wintery promise of spring." Many Christian denominations believe the soul enters heaven immediately following death here on earth, and not after a "peaceful pause."
The Adventists adhere to certain dietary habits, many of which came from the Old Testament. They are expected not to eat pork or any seafood that has claws (such as lobster). It was explained to me, however, that these are not "rules" but suggestions for living a healthier life.
If you are curious about other beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, you can check them out at adventist.org/beliefs. The Journey's website, which also contains a great deal of information about the local church and the denomination, is thejourney2grace.com, The church's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and the phone number is 720-545-5541.
I should point out that this is not a new church of the Adventist denomination. Their group of about 30 to 35 people have been worshiping for a number of years at different locations in the Denver area. They have been worshiping at Good News for about four years now.
The church soon will be not so hidden. A 3-by-10-foot banner will soon be hung to let people know of the church's existence. I know there is some controversy surrounding some of the beliefs of this denomination, but Saturday morning I found myself with a wonderful group of believers in Christ who made me feel welcome and loved. And when we get right down to it, isn't that what the church of Jesus Christ is all about?
Photo of Will Dickerson from The Journey's website.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5574