Orcas Island Community Church

Summary. Orcas Island Community Church is a vibrant community church whose mission is to pursue God in the company of friends for the benefit of the world. People from over 40 denominations are drawn to this intergenerational, mixed demographic church, with blue collar, white collar, highly educated and self-educated. We practice Augustine’s maxim: In essentials unity, in non-essential liberty and in all things charity.

Dick’s Story. Though I was raised in a Christian, I didn’t really came to a deep personal faith until the 1960’s in San Francisco after I read the gospels and decided Jesus was completely different from the religion that bore his name. I began a lonely sojourn of marching to the beat of a different drummer. Mine was a love-hate relationship it the church, which seemed sadly disconnected from the spiritual quest of my generation. I worked at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City during college.

Bill Lane, Glenn Barker and Ramsey Michaels, all Harvard Divinity School graduates,  had written The New Testament Speaks, an attempt to understand the NT in its own first century context. David Scholer, another NT scholar and Harvard Divinity School grad became a lifelong mentor during those years as well. Their approach led me to believe if I could understand Jesus in his own culture, I could understand what it meant to follow him in mine. I headed off to Gordon-Conwell Seminary to answer my questions and was immediately drawn into working with students at Park Street Church.

After graduation from GCTS and additional studies at Harvard Divinity School a career in the church became unlikely due to some very painful negative experiences in church life, combined with a deep crisis in my personal life.

I headed off into a marketing job in a $2 billion corporation, followed by an executive stint in a large non-profit, then an international entrepreneurial venture and then broadcasting. For the next 30 years I remained active as a church member, but never engaged professionally. I had an increased sense that the next generation’s questions were ecclesiological. In other words, they loved Jesus, but couldn’t figure out how the local church connected to their life and journey.  I wondered if I was somehow supposed to invest in answering those questions more personally.

In 2006 through a remarkable, one might say miraculous set of circumstances, Kathy and I made ourselves available for some sort of pastoral ministry.  We began conversations with Orcas Island Community Church in the San Juan Islands.  These islands have the highest per capita education and income in the state of Washington and they are quintessential Northwest, meaning they are very spiritual but disinterested in religion. The church wanted me to bridge those gaps and to keep doing all the Kindlings initiatives stuff off island too. Thus began what seems a match made in heaven between an amazing group of people who love the people of this island, and a mere mortal who has spent his life understand faith and culture and interpreting each to the other.

Here we are on an island named one of the top ten in the world to call home (by Islands Magazine) with an extraordinarily interesting mix of people in the church, dedicated to loving the extraordinarily interesting mix of people on the island.

We’re trying not to mess up what God is doing. Stay tuned.