A beacon in the dark

Lighthouse Baptist Church

Pastor Randy Ralstin leads the choir at Lighthouse Baptist Church.

Pastor Randy Ralstin leads the choir at Lighthouse Baptist Church.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

Lighthouse Baptist Church

5350 Pembroke Dr.
Reno, NV 89502

(775) 356-7535

I woke up early Sunday morning thinking that it had been a while since I’d checked out a good ole fashioned Christian service. Unfortunately, a Google search with the terms “good ole fashioned Christian service Reno Nevada” doesn’t yield much but a few Myspace profiles and some crazy newspaper column called Filet of Soul. Fortunately, a friend suggested I check out a church near Rosewood Lakes Golf Course. I was able to identify it using Google Maps, but could find no website to get information, such as service times. When I arrived, there wasn’t a sign to proclaim the church’s name to those curious Hidden Valley folks or golfers who might drive by. And that’s a shame because it’s headed by a dynamic pastor, Randy Ralstin.

I was introduced to the pastor almost immediately upon my arrival. I get the feeling that Pastor Ralstin is very involved with his flock. He’s been pastor of this church since 1987. The building is fairly new, built five years ago. The sanctuary is simply decorated, elegant, but dramatic, mainly due to the design of the dais, with the pulpit raised about three feet from the floor of the sanctuary, the choir seating behind that, the baptistry even higher and a simple, backlit cross above that. It seats about 200 people, and there were about 60 in attendance.

Like at many Baptist Churches, the congregation was very friendly—almost everyone who saw a strange face came up and introduced themselves both before the service and during the greeting portion of the service. This was a generally welldressed group. I only saw a few people wearing jeans and shorts.

Before the service, there was rousing prerecorded piano music playing over the speakers, but a live pianist took over a few minutes before the opening songs. The choir was enthusiastic with Pastor Ralstin leading the congregation. The style was traditional, songs like “Glory to His Name” and “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.”

“What a blessed day Sunday is to a child of God,” began the pastor in the opening prayer. “It is the highlight of our week.”

The chorus dispersed into the crowd during the announcements, which included such items as Christmas wreaths for sale and a new baby in the congregation. The pastor spoke about the upcoming election and an insert that was in the church program discussed the biblical references to homosexuality and gay marriage, and then referenced five presidential candidates’ views on the issue. The insert stopped short of an endorsement of any candidate. Honestly, this was the most directly political “speech” I’ve seen in any of the services I’ve attended, and it’s well within conventional boundaries.

“You’ve got to pray,” said Pastor Ralstin. “Hope for America starts right here. You’ve got to pray.”

The reading was from Chapter 3 of Revelation, which told the story of the city of Sardis and its lukewarm inhabitants who made great human works, but were pretty lackadaisical on the spiritual levels.

The pastor is a high-energy speaker, with his voice rising and falling in volume and rhythm, developing a cadence when he got to rolling.

Beginning his sermon on the dangers of being “lukewarm,” the minister said, “The most miserable person in the world is not the person we think he is … the homeless person with broken home, and in some cases, broken dreams. … The miserable person is that person who knows what he ought to do but does not do what he knows he ought to do.” The pastor told me during the greeting portion of the service that he was a professional athlete before he started the church.

Lighthouse Baptist Church is a fundamental Baptist church for people who like a solid Christian message. My guess is people who want to belong to a not-just-on-Sunday congregation could make a home here.