First Presbyterian Church of Coeur d’Alene has been downtown since 1888. But their membership hasn’t always been growing as fast as it is today. Until last summer, the church only needed one worship service. Recently, thought, the church became so full they were forced to add a second. And now their sanctuary is getting a makeover. Don’t worry, the original architecture is being preserved, but with updated craftsmanship. They’ve received special approval to cover the plaster work with curved drywall, and the work is being done in such a way as to keep the arched arrangement of the cathedral area. In addition, LED colored lighting and a built-in theater system are being added, yielding a contemporary experience in a classic setting.
I asked the Rev. Craig Sumey to what he attributed the growth of his church, and his answer was to a large part the location. Of course, visitors to the church are warmly welcomed. As a visitor myself, I can attest to this fact. They see the love and joy of the congregants and the members grow through the discipleship programs. But the downtown Coeur d’Alene setting is a big factor. There was a time when mainline denominations in downtown areas were dying. All the expansion was in the suburbs.
“God had a different plan for this church,” Sumey said. “A mainline denomination can transform and change. Now younger generations like the stained glass. It gives them a feeling of sacred space.”
He explained how focus is shifting back to downtown areas. Many from suburbia are getting tired of worshipping in a gymnasium or an auditorium. They crave the continuity of the old downtown churches.
Well, until the remodeling is completed sometime in June, worshippers at First Presbyterian will still have to put up with a gymnasium. It’s a lot of work for everyone, moving chairs, setting up and tearing down, working construction projects, making do with less. But after that, they’ll get their old church back with so much more. It’s kind of a microcosm of the Christian message.
Bruce Meyer writes about the relationship between the physical universe and the pursuit of spirituality.