Reno Seventh-day Adventist Church
Reno, NV 89523
I’d never been to a Seventh-day Adventist service, so I was excited to get going Saturday morning. The church is a beautiful building on a hill overlooking the Truckee.
I was fortunate enough to be met at the door by church elder Rod Bryan. He adapted quickly to the idea of a newspaper doing a church review and gave me a grand tour of the building. It’s pretty fantastic, with grade and high schools, a massive gymnasium, kitchen—all the accoutrements. On church day—Saturday, since it’s the Seventh-day Adventists—there are Bible study classes in the rooms ringing the sanctuary, classes for everyone from babes in arms (and wombs) to adults divided by gender. The church was built in 2004, and they sure pulled out the stops.
The sanctuary is also well-appointed with about 80 blond-wood pews with checkered, pastel green upholstery. The large chancel was raised about 2-and-half-feet with an organ and piano to stage right, and lots of plastic and potted plants. Slightly behind the pulpit and to the left was a cross made of rough-hewn tree branches. Above and behind was a gothic-styled pane of stained glass. There are nice hanging lights and the usual audio-visual aspect of a modern place of worship. In other words, it’s a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing Christian church.
There was a bit of singing to inspire the congregation before the service—traditional Seventh-day Adventist songs, according to the song leader—including “In a Little While We’re Going Home,” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Instrumentation included the organ, piano, flute and, I think, a recorder. By the time the service started, I’d estimate there were about 80 people present. Individual prayers led things off, with people coming to the front for prayer and the rest of us kneeling on the floor at our spots.
Announcements followed, including discussion of the various summer camp meetings and a presentation by the school’s principal. (This year, the senior class will get to help build a church in the Cayman Islands in December and January.) Then came the children’s story, during which they received a quick lesson at the front of the congregation before going out to collect money for the school’s scholarship fund. It was pretty cute, little children running around the church, dollar bills clenched in their hands while “Jesus Loves Me” played in the background.
A guest, whom I believe is a music student at UNR, Hasir from Inner Mongolia, sang a beautiful Russian Orthodox song in an operatic, a cappella voice.
Guest speaker Dr. Lee Gugliotto handled the worship service, speaking on 1 Samuel 15. It’s got to be one of the toughest passages to preach in the Bible. It tells the story of how God ordered Saul to commit genocide on the Amalekites: “Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”
Saul didn’t kill the king, Agag, or the best of the livestock, which he preserved for a sacrifice to God.
And God, through the prophet Samuel, expressed his anger at Saul’s arrogant disobedience.
Gugliotto didn’t even discuss the moral issues surrounding the genocide, but adroitly went on to explain the passages. He explained that unless people are willing to open their Bibles and read, they are not following God’s word. “We just keep trying to get by on what God has already told us, instead of going back for further instructions.”
It’s when we innovate instead of going back to the Bible, Gugliotto said, that we can end up in deep trouble.