Compassion fashion

Light of the Soul Christian Ministries

Light of the Soul Christian Ministries musical ministers will get the congregation clapping their hands.

Light of the Soul Christian Ministries musical ministers will get the congregation clapping their hands.

Photo By David Robert

Reno First Congregational Church, 627 Sunnyside Drive, 323-2798, has its services on Sundays at 7 p.m.

I’ve been wanting to check out the Light of the Soul Christian Ministries for some time, so I was glad when one of their music pastors, Michael, invited me several weeks ago. It turned out Rev. Denise Cordova wasn’t going to speak that week, so I put it off. But this was a good week for a Sunday evening service, and I headed over there at 6:45 p.m. This ministry has the reputation as the area’s “gay” church, but that’s not what I found. It’s more like an “everybody’s welcome” kind of ministry, although, yeah, there were gay people there.

The church is at the very end of Sunnyside Drive off Keystone Avenue. It’s a First Congregational Church, but I believe the Light of the Soul Christian Ministries will soon be affiliated with the United Church of Christ. I’m not really sure of all the details, but it seemed somewhat irrelevant to the Ministry. It’s its own thing.

People started introducing themselves before I got in the front door. I always enjoy that. Rev. Cordova greeted me in the foyer. She’s a charismatic person of about medium height with dark hair and eyes. She passed me along to Michael, who showed me around the church and introduced me to everyone who was around. The church has a pretty simple layout: foyer, fellowship room to the left, sanctuary and chapel. While the church architecture is traditional, it’s very interesting. The sanctuary is basically an isosceles triangle with depth. There are two rows of 16 pews, sort of antique-stained, greenish, with cushions. There’s a large simple cross dominating the front of the church—the back of the altar. At its base, there’s a more ornate metal cross.

The dais is only about a foot and a half above the congregants. Its design is simple, pulpit to the front left, lectern to the front right, a green-clothed table front and almost center. Most of the dais was devoted to the band, with keyboards, drums and two singers. Most weeks there is another singer and a guitar player. (The music has a positive vibe, traditional hymn-style, but kind of “Up with People” sounding.) The design of the sanctuary is also somewhat traditional but very dramatic. There are few artifacts on the walls to break the geometric lines of the wood paneling and brick that lead to the giant cross. In the back, there’s a balcony, where the sound equipment is managed. Below the balcony is a cute little chapel, with intricate stained glass, furnishings and stunning metal doors.

The Rev. Cordova chose the topic of the sermon from the scripture reading, Luke 13:10-17, which told the story of how Jesus cured the woman of a back ailment in the synagogue on the Sabbath. In the scripture, the synagogue’s leader complained about Jesus working on the holy day—breaking the law.

“Jesus wasn’t into tradition,” said Cordova, “he wasn’t into the law. Jesus was into compassion.”

Leaping off from this theme, she related several personal anecdotes, and told some stories out of the news, where authoritarian figures’ adherence to the letter of the law overrode the spirit of the law and common sense.

Shortly after the sermon, there were personal prayers in which individual members asked the group to pray for or be thankful for particular things—illness, the Rattlesnake Mountain fire, successful surgery, and later, most people met in the fellowship room for chocolate-chip cookies, nordie bars and pineapple upside down cake. There was some non-processed sugar stuff, but I didn’t really notice.

The Light of the Soul Christian Ministries is an extremely welcoming church that won’t judge people for being themselves—as long as the selves have integrity. Those who’ve had difficulties with family or judgmental churches won’t have those problems here.