DR: We continued this week with our weekly excursion to St. John Lutheran Church (Ellisville, MO), which we've elected to make our temporary church "home" until I am assigned to a field work church (which may or may not be St. John Ellisville...we will find out in early-mid September).
As we've written in an earlier post, St. John Ellisville is one of the largest LCMS churches in the country, worshipping about 2,500 souls each weekend (as a point of reference, St. John's in Bakersfield worships 650-750 souls a weekend). Among other things, the worship experiences at St. John Ellisville are dynamic, the teaching is edifying and encouraging, the church appears to be well-lead and well-administered, and they place a very high priority on ministry to children and youth.
On the way in to the main sanctuary today, we unexpectedly ran in Dr. Utech, a seminary professor in the practical theology department here, who also serves as the Director of the Field Education program. That means he is the one who works with congregations in the area to place guys like me into field work churches, so we can gain more practical church experience while we're going to school. He suggested we try the Warehouse service and meet Pete Mueller, one of the pastors on staff.
So we took him up on the suggestion. The Warehouse worship was a new and different experience for us. We enjoyed it. Very contemporary worship style in a relaxed setting.
The service was packed (about 200 souls in the small-to-medium space), literally standing room only. They have round tables in the back where you can sit with your family, munch on a bagel, and sip a cup of coffee while you worship. Lots of contemporary music (contemporary praise songs, Third Day covers, etc) lead by a worship team whose lively songs book-end a biblically-sound and devotional-feeling sermon on prayer. Exposed ceilings and air conditioning ducts, stamped concrete floors, stackable chairs, and not a necktie in the house! Pastor Pete sat on a stool for most of the service and wore loose fitting pants and shirt with Birkenstocks. The gentleman who served us communion wore khaki shorts and flip-flops.
Needless to say, the Warehouse ain't your mama's church! Translated, God and His everlasting truth does not change, but each generation may desire a different style and need a different conversation starter about spiritual matters. Indeed, it was a new and enjoyable experience for us that promises to launch St. John Ellisville and Jesus Christ into the hearts and minds of the next generation. Praise the Lord!
SJR: Surprise, surprise! The weather here yesterday was really nice (!) so we decided to go to Faust Park. It's about 25 minutes away and they have a great kids' playground, a carousel, a historic village, and of course, the Butterfly House (the main attraction, I think).
Hannah had fun feeding the ducks and playing on the playground before our picnic lunch. Then we walked around the historic village. It's rather small, but has some neat houses. The oldest structures are 150 years old! Then we went to the Butterfly House. We started inside with a 17-minute movie about butterflies. Then we went into the conservatory where they have about 1500 butterflies. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was just shocked at how many butterflies were flying around. They're absolutely everywhere - flying right next to you and landing on you (sometimes). My favorite was the Blue Morpho. I was going to tell you how darn hard it was to get a picture of one, but I found this photo and the explanation says it all. There is a glimpse of one in the slide show below. Enjoy the pictures!