A new path

The Potter’s House

Pastor Oliver talks with Matt Knight, a parishioner, about repentance.

Pastor Oliver talks with Matt Knight, a parishioner, about repentance.

Photo By David Robert

The Potter’s House, 400-B Edison Way, 828-9393. Services held on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The Potter’s House is a born-again, evangelical, Christian church. It can be found in the industrial area in eastern Reno at 400-B Edison Way. A modest sign marks the parking lot that leads to this nearly hidden church, which is tucked away at the end of a large office building.

As Sunday evening service is about to begin, the church is easy to find because of the arriving crowd. Nearly 100 churchgoers file their way inside through the glass doors, which are held open by greeters who welcome each new arrival. A long hallway leads to the sanctuary filled with a diverse group of people saying their hellos to friends and fellow church members in this family-like assembly of parishioners.

The sanctuary is practical, a wide hall with a low ceiling, filled with rows of soft chairs occupied by folks happily chattering away. Somewhere in the crowded room, somebody shakes a tambourine, as though eager for the service to begin, and a 4-year-old in a Superman costume runs down the aisle. A long stage runs across the front of the room, and set behind it is a single message on the windowless walls: “With God All Things Are Possible.”

Service begins with a song. A man at the podium encourages the congregation to stand and sing, as a projector near the stage guides the audience through the lyrics. The singing is accompanied by a plethora of instruments: three pianos, a bass guitar, an electric guitar, bongos, a drum set, clapping hands and a clarinet.

The music ends, but before anyone takes a seat, a prayer is said for the hopes of a blessed service. The prayer is concluded with the words “worship God,” and the entire congregation begins to pray aloud at the same time, creating a low rumble of indecipherable voices which goes on for minutes. Everyone takes their seat after the prayer, and before tithe is passed, all are encouraged to show their love for God by giving as much as possible.

Potter’s Church in Reno was founded by Louis Oliver and his wife, Barb, from their home. Twenty years and four locations later, Oliver, who now has small tendrils of silver in his black hair and sports a well-worn smile, usually leads the service. Tonight, however, Angel Martinez gives the sermon. Martinez begins his sermon laughing and joking with the congregation, his angular and broad-featured face stretching repeatedly into a grin.

With rapid speech, Martinez launches right into scripture. Reading out of Matthew, Luke and Ephesians from the New Testament, he focuses on what God wants from his disciples, and the importance of not letting the carnal mind get between an individual and God.

“God doesn’t exist, I got a flat tire,” Martinez jokes. “Money is not everything, that’s all related to pride … take away everything, and I will still praise.”

Before the sermon is over, Martinez leads the church in a final prayer, asking that if anyone present would like to be born again they need only raise their hand silently. Those who raise their hands are asked to come to the front of the church to kneel and pray. Martinez asks that someone in the congregation come and pray with these new members and more than half of the church stands and kneels beside them. The service ends with a final song.