Year of Sundays

Year of Sundays


First Christian Church: A Church White People Like

posted by Joel Gunz

The First Christian Church website features graphics as slick and smooth as the service itself.

It’s only my second post on this blog and I’m already starting to sound like Goldilocks. To wit: if the Unitarian Universalist church we went to last Sunday was too politically hot, the First Christian Church in downtown Portland’s park blocks was too spiritually cool.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a single complaint. What’s not to like? Having walked by its round portico all my life, I was glad to have a chance to peek inside. Spit-polished, airy and light, with a touch of old European sweetness, it was like walking into a Napoleon dessert. I’m a sucker for stained-glass-filtered light, anyway.

It’s just that my quest for the right church means I’m looking for something more than religious decoration. Push me! Smack me! Make me squirm! (FYI, I’m talking to the minister, not Amanda. Though, now that you mention it, I’m not not talking to her.)

What we got, however, was a roomful of white people smiling fatuously for Jesus. (If I were God, I would long ago have grown sick and tired of people smiling at me all the time.) The sermon had something to do with joining Christ on his path – a message that seemed rather simplistic for an audience that doesn’t really need to hear it, and unconvincing for someone like me who does.

And then the choir started up. Think: Dockers, Land’s End sweaters and an acoustic guitar. The softer side of Sears™, but more churchy. I hissed in Amanda’s ear that if they played Kumbaya, I was getting the hell out. Unfortunately, they didn’t, so I had to stay. If Jesus shopped at Pottery Barn and listened to Kenny G, he’d totally fit in at this First Christian Church.

The biggest challenge for me was trying to keep up as the service had me juggling back and forth between two hymnals, the Bible and a printed program. At the end, the congregation formed a giant circle around the perimeter of the auditorium and joined hands in a final prayer, Alcoholics Anonymous style. Yes, I joined in. But my heart wasn’t in it – and my soul was nowhere to be found.

So the search continues. Maybe next week’s church will be just right.



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Amanda P. Westmont

posted February 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm


We need to schedule a Sunday to come up and visit your church! It’s only a two hour drive, totally worth it.



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Joel Gunz

posted February 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm


Great. That means it’s going to be a long year. :D



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jen zug

posted February 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm


[…a message that seemed rather simplistic for an audience that doesn’t really need to hear it, and unconvincing for someone like me who does.]

You just described the problem with most evangelical churches in America. I call it Gospel Lite.



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