Note: Most of my talk at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church was taped and is now available on their church website. The first few minutes provide a sense of the joy and friendly atmosphere.
Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending the 9 a.m. worship service at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church in Spokane, WA. I was invited by Pastor Betsey Moe, who had also invited me to be their guest speaker in their series, “Our Religious Neighbors,” at 10:30 a.m.
This was a rare opportunity for me to attend another church. You see, I enjoy teaching the 17-19 year old Sunday School class at my own church and generally prefer not to miss a Sunday.
I was warmly greeted before entering the large auditorium and given a flyer with an agenda of the service. In addition to other announcements was,
“Today, Bill Scott of the Christian Science Committee on Publication will be our guest speaker. Come to room 4 to hear Bill’s faith perspective and to ask questions you have about Christian Science.”
We sang hymn #138 from the Presbyterian hymnal, which is also hymn #117 in the Christian Science hymnal, with only a minor wording change.
It was a vibrant service which included singing, scriptural readings, greeting those around us, praying for the people of Japan, Libya and Burma, and watching a humorous YouTube video. After the service, I was greeted by name by Pastor Betsey. She said she recognized me from my blog photo!
In room #4, Elder Bob Nofsinger welcomed me and soon the room was filled to capacity. Pastor Betsey introduced me and then led us in the following prayer:
“God, I thank you that Bill is here with us today. And that you’ve given us open hearts and minds to hear and understand. So we do pray for your spirit to be among us this morning and giving us all clarification on what we believe so that we may follow you with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
What a beautiful opening prayer! It made me think of Matt. 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
I certainly felt the presence of the Christ blessing each of us during this talk. I have to admit I was a little anxious the night before, but woke with great expectation and gratitude for the opportunity to share my faith.
It was a wonderful time! I felt as though I was among friends. The questions were insightful and sincere and although we touched on serious questions, we laughed together throughout the talk too. There were few questions about Mary Baker Eddy, because they had studied her life in a previous talk.
Tonight, many of the members plan to attend the Wednesday night meeting at nearby First Church of Christ, Scientist, Spokane. And then they plan to continue discussing Christian Science again this Sunday before moving on to the next religion in their series.
My heartfelt thanks to Pastor Betsey for inviting me and for her gracious introduction, and for the way she presented questions to me. And thanks to Bob, Keith, Ashton and many others who made me feel so welcome! I think a passage read by Pastor Onstot during the service best describes how I felt when I left:
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Gal. 5:14