This weekend Living Waters Church will have a big celebration. Our church facilities are “paid in full.”
While our church had some loose organization since the late 1920s, it was 1949 when the church became officially recognized with a pastor and a facility at Third and D streets. That log structure still stands today, right across the street from the post office. It took 20 years from the time the property was purchased, then a facility was built, to pay off the mortgage.
As we prepare for this weekend’s celebration I began to think in terms of what would Salida be without the influence of churches. If you were to place a map of Salida on cardboard with a small light pinpointing each church, then you turned out all the lights in a facility so you were standing in a totally dark facility, that would be your answer. Darkness.
Then if you began to turn a pinpoint light on for each church, you would begin to experience what churches do for a community. Very simple, yet profound is the thought that churches bring so much light into a community.
Consider how difficult it is for a church to have a beginning. People of like-minded views begin working together. They determine a reason for existence. Then they begin to pray a dream until it comes into existence.
Sacrifice is a common word as churches start. People give their hard-earned funds to buy property, get a building permit and construct that building. Sometimes they rent a facility at first. Whatever form it takes, churches exist because of a lot of unified labor and sacrifice.
They call a pastor. Many pastors live frugally due to lack of finances, yet they bring their families to a community because they believe God wants them to do so. The church leadership brings in people with many different talents to work to build a community of believers who can help people. It requires many hands to do a work called a church.
However, there is another factor involved – God. He makes a statement in the Bible: Matthew 16:18b: “… I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That takes “church” to another level.
God labels churches as “mine.” God also declares there is a constant struggle between God and evil/sin. God also declares: Even hell and all the powers of evil and darkness shall not be able to destroy his church.
The church offers hope for the hopeless, a lifeline to the desperate. The church is not only city, county, state and U.S. relevant but is worldwide in its influence and relevancy.
While many seem to think the church is irrelevant, I assure you there is great power and strength gathering in the name of Jesus. You pray together and fellowship together. Beyond that the church reaches and influences all of the world as we sponsor ministries.
My prayer is that you will go back to church. You will find a church home. That you will recognize how powerful it is to have faith in a living God. May you see churches as a light in the community, as well as a light for your soul.
The Rev. Stan Rutkowski is pastor of Living Waters Church in Salida.