Wednesday, February 18, 2009

First Presbyterian Church of Mountain View

I should start this post by saying that we really love Indian River Presbyterian Church in Fort Pierce, FL. Both of us love the people, the environment, and the messages. Because of this, we measure our opinions of other places of worship using IRPC as the base. We had a difficult time in Melbourne finding a church, and were never quite successful, even though I think we tried eight or so different places.

We finally began our hunt out here with First Presbyterian Church of Mountain View. It's only three miles from our apartment, so travel time is less than ten minutes. They only have one service, but they have a lot of ministries and outreach. I picked them from the phonebook advertisement, so we headed there this past Sunday.

It was raining that morning, but it was barely drizzling, so we headed out without thinking twice. We arrived about fifteen minutes before the 10:30am service was supposed to begin, and were confused at to the layout of the campus. There was a directory, but as we headed toward the sanctuary, we saw tons of people headed toward another building. So we asked the parking attendant where to go, to which he responded, "which service are you attending, First Presbyterian or Open Door?" Turns out that three different congregations share the campus: First Presb which owns the property, Open Door which is a satellite campus of a Menlo Park Presb church, and a Korean church (which holds service at a different time). The first two hold service at the same time because they have combined Sunday School classes.

So we head into the sanctuary (which was awkward as the doors were not open, although there were numerous greeters after we let ourselves in) and find a nice pew to sit in. The pew is lower than the standard, and the cushion is very uncomfortable... not things that make or break a church, but notable nonetheless. For only being ten minutes out, it was a bit empty, but there were still at least fifty people there as we browsed the bulletin and the "welcome packet" we received. A friendly family sat in front of us, and we made small talk. As far as the atmosphere goes, it was very friendly. The stained glass was minimal but there. The roof was pitched and there were candles at the altar. Awkwardly the choir was visually blocked by a printed-design screen, but I could get over that. Demographically, there were only three families there, one with teenagers and two with very young kids. There were a few couples in their twenties, but it was mostly 40-50 and up. I'm not sure how representative this group was, given the "rainstorm," but it was not what we had hoped for, given the demographics of the area in general.

The choir came in and service began. The pastor welcomed everyone, and made a comment about how he was "glad so many people came out in the rain." Apparently the sprinkling stopped people from attending, and we guessed about 200 people belong to the church but only about 75 were in attendance that morning. Songs included Chris Tomlin's "Forever," Matt Redman's "Blessed be Your Name," and "Faithful One" (by somebody I don't know). The readings were broken up into three different parts of the service, which was rather strange, and were not tied together in the message (which didn't really fit its title, either). The Children's Message was very vague, but incorporated props and interaction. The church leader seems to be an interim pastor, but has worked in Presb churches a long time, as he referenced two or three others in his sermon. It seemed like a sermon he has done before, but he still appeared rather uncomfortable with speaking freely, and followed his notes a bit too much (while still getting off on a few tangents). After the service, the music leader introduced himself to us, and he was very kind. They were having a Valentine's Party after service, with cake and coffee, but we passed in order to get some errands done.

The people were all very friendly, but between the age range and the pastor, we'll be trying something else next week. Perhaps Open Door, since we did see a lot of people (especially families) going in.

If you can recommend a good service in Silicon Valley, we'd love to hear it. We're not set on any particular denomination within Christianity, but both prefer a traditional service to a contemporary one. The only other main requirement is a congregation of all ages (this was a severe problem in Melbourne, as we rarely met anyone in their teens and twenties at services), as we are hoping for fellowship opportunities as well.

1 comment:

  1. It is so difficult to find a church where you fit and are comfortable... We have gone through that ourselves.. We finally found one about 7 miles from us and you know when have found it... You really want to get up on Sunday morning and GO! :)
    Our is Clinton United Methodist Church... we don't get as involved as we should, but I alway say..."Some day.. I will help out with that" :)