In an era when people are plugged in technologically but increasingly disconnected relationally, it is it is important to find a sense of community.
Community Church Congregational in Corona del Mar enjoys doing exactly that, and it reflects its name in many ways.
“We are very fortunate with our name and our location; we love being a community church,” explained Chip Fisher, senior pastor of Community Church Congregational. “There are so many wonderful things about our community and there are wonderful ways for our community to be involved here.”
Chip has been at Community Church since 2000.
“We have extraordinary people,” he said. “We are able to live out a special sense of connection. People take seriously our commitment to honor God and love each other.”
Community Church Congregational began its journey in 1944 when a local group of women began a Sunday school class, probably the first one in Corona del Mar. Pleased parents of those students bought a little piece of land on the corner of Heliotrope and 4th Street, the land on which the church still stands. They affiliated with the Congregational Church, a denomination that traces its roots back to the Pilgrims.
Many people know the church as “The Wedding Church,” and Chip agrees that it is a beautiful venue for major life events such as baptisms, weddings and funerals, but he is also quick to point out that it offers a variety of programs for everything in between.
“We are much more than a postcard New England church,” Chip said. “We have the luxury of two full time pastors, which allows for a wealth of opportunities many small churches don’t have. Also, because of our size, we feel intimate and close; we are like family. We know one another and we notice when people are absent. That’s important.”
Heather Miner has been the Associate Pastor at Community Church Congregational for three years.
“It was a match from the very beginning, and it feels like home.” she said. “We have wonderful legacies here and people here love each other so deeply. Many people are first introduced to the church through weddings; they see it and love it, and God moves some of them to come here. They find such a warm reception that they stay and call it home.”
Newport resident Rucsandra Christiano is a perfect example.
“Jamie and I got married there, we thought it was such a pretty church,” Rucsandra said. “Then we had children. We were young anxious parents and we wanted spiritual help raising our kids. We also wanted more from life than just work. It just clicked for us; church was the missing piece in our lives. People there have become our best friends, and we’ve gone on trips together.
“It has such a community feel, it’s easy to go talk to the minister, and your voice is heard because everybody matters. It is a small enough church that it is easy to connect and there are perfect ways to do so, with Bible studies, retreats, parenting seminars and Logos, a wonderful nationwide family program. A friend said it perfectly when she said, ‘Our church is like a big small group.’”
Rucsandra’s husband, Jamie, is the treasurer as well as being a board member at Community Church.
Chip pointed out a unique opportunity they have at Community Congregational. “Another nice thing about our community is that we can keep our doors to the sanctuary open during the day so people can come in, step away from the pressures of the day and regroup, pray, be still, and rest.” He said. “It’s a chance we’re prepared to take because we want to be available to people. Sometimes people leave a note of appreciation, saying something like: ‘Thank you, I really needed your door open today.’ We’re glad to be able to provide this safe space for our wider neighborhood.”
Many recovery groups in the community have benefitted from Community Church, too. Chip explained that there has been a Friday night A.A. group that has met there for more than 60 years. “We have a long tradition of community involvement by hosting weekly recovery programs.”
The church connects with the community throughout the year, including participating in the Sandcastle Contest and the Corona del Mar Christmas Walk.
There will be a choral and instrumental presentation at the church Dec. 19 at 10 a.m., and a traditional Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve (7 p.m.).
For more information, go to www.cdmucc.org
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]