Kitsap House is off and running!
I was surprised at how emotional I felt all morning. From the moment I walked in and saw the incredible venue – (a gym with huge cartoon bulls painted on the walls, filled with church “stuff”)—to the warmth of the greetings, to the flood of people walking through the doors…I was a little “verklempt” (a great Yiddish word that means emotional). When I saw all the chairs set up I thought, “Wow…that’s ambitious; do they really think we will have this many in worship?” Oh, me of little faith, we packed the place out…about 150! More worshippers than ever! More kids than ever. And all of that to celebrate a singular moment…the launch of a brand-new church.
Kitsap House officially took wing last Sunday. Members of our presbytery were present to commemorate this holy…and exciting moment. The FIRST new church plant in our presbytery! Pastor Megan preached a rip-roaring call to arms…Pastor Larry anointed the 20 charter members of this fledgling congregation (with 20 more in the wings!) …we sang, prayed, listened, took communion, and ended this service of celebration with balloons galore.
How I wish you could have been there. How I wish you could have sensed the energy, the excitement in the room as this seed of an idea which was planted five years ago burst forth, full-grown! We ordained the first four elders of the church (with a fifth in absentia). The new elders welcomed the brand-new members. And then, the new members installed, officially, their “new” pastors, Megan and Larry Hackman.
I had the privilege of opening the official portion of the service, sharing how five years ago, our Session deployed Pastor Megan on a prayer walk throughout Port Orchard to sense if, indeed, this might be the site of our first daughter congregation. She sensed that it WAS the place God was calling us to and so, we began our hard work. Including giving away some of our very best staff and members. Church-planting is always hard, but to make it even more interesting, we started on the eve of a global pandemic. Oh, and let’s throw in seven different venue changes over those four years!
But God was so obviously in this and Sunday, Kitsap House was born.
Friends…beloved…this is all because of you! Of course, it is all because of God…but God used you! When you paid off our debt…when you said “Yes” to giving ourselves away “Beyond These Walls” (if you don’t know what those words mean, learn more about our initiative to pay off our building debt so we could use that money to go “beyond the walls” of our church campus…forever!)…when you said “Yes” to planting a new church…it set something in motion. And Sunday, we celebrated the birth of that dream.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! If you want to get a taste of that morning, you can check it out here. And the great news? Kitsap House was our “first of, not a one-off.” We are already laying plans for the next church plant…and then another…and then another. God is doing something powerful in our region…and we, my Sweetheart Church, get to be part of it! I hope you are as excited about this as I am…although, I doubt it. 😊 I feel like a very proud Papa!
P.S.—Remember that tomorrow at 11:45 am, my daughter, Rev. Rachel Toone, Dean of Spiritual Formation at Montreat College, will lead a discussion about the value of evangelical, Christian higher education in the Gathering Place. She will also be preaching at both services tomorrow morning. Please make plans to come to this hour-long meeting and get your questions answered. And don’t worry…you’ll be finished in time to watch the Super Bowl!