Sunday, June 19, 2011

Oakmont Presbyterian Church

Today we worshiped at Oakmont Presbyterian Church, 415 Pennsylvania Avenue, Oakmont, PA 15139, 412.828.5770,, Rev. Dr. Stephen Wilson, Senior Pastor.

Bob’s thoughts:

The church was limited to street parking, but we found room a few blocks away. I was impressed that there was signage at the entry stair. We chose the downstairs restrooms and found a light switch and the ladies without too much difficulty, but the men’s was way better hidden.

We were warmly welcomed, unusual for a church that has two services. The Sanctuary is very pleasant, impressive woodwork and beautiful windows.

The choir was a highlight: this was a truly enjoyable worship experience by a choir. The voices blended well through the full range, but most importantly the passion and joy were apparent. The choir did not have to compete with the organ as they complemented each other. It reinforced the importance of music in worship.

On this Trinity Sunday Christ used the Pastor to deliver a message I found thought-provoking and convicting. Like the Trinity we are relational beings, but we build walls to exclude those different from us. Isolation is easy and we keep ourselves from connection. As relational beings in Christ we are called to build bridges and break the Pittsburgh Rule – we really can get there from here.

The sermon was well-developed and held the congregation’s interest, and I wonder how many like me will rethink their isolationism.

I felt Christ’s presence in this church, and it was a joy to lift the pastors and congregation in prayer.

Jan’s thoughts:

The only issue with a church being set in a lovely residential area is parking, and if parking is an issue, the church has been blessed. At this church, finding a parking space was tricky, but it was a beautiful day for a little walk so I’m not complaining.

The building is handicapped accessible via a ramp leading to a spacious Narthex and into the Sanctuary.

Immediately upon entering the building we noticed a sign listing the rooms found on each floor, so we opted to use the downstairs restrooms. Following worship we located the ones on the Sanctuary floor, and they were very easily found due to the signs protruding from the walls above the doors…those are always most helpful.

The bulletin consisted of two 11x17” sheets folded and stapled, making them as easy to use as they were informative. When I was a Church Secretary and creating bulletins weekly I always thought some graphics made the many announcements easier on the eyes, but I easily followed these announcements without graphics. And I appreciated the blank space for note taking.

The Sanctuary has white walls accented by lots of dark wood and sort of watercolor stained glass. It looked like it was possible to expand the size of the Sanctuary by opening some doors on the side into what could also be used as a carpeted Fellowship Hall.

The people were extremely friendly, greeting us cordially and even inviting us to sit with them, which is unusual.

One of several things that made this church outstanding was the music. The enthusiasm of the Organist was apparent, and the choir was equally as passionate. The large size of the group was certainly part of it, but their worship of God was obvious in their music. The choir – all the music – was just excellent.

I appreciated hearing the Prayer for Illumination prior to the Scripture reading.

The Sermon was entitled “The Example of the Trinity” and was rooted in 2 Corinthians 13:11-13. This was one of the most personally convicting sermons I’ve heard a quite a long while. He spoke of relationships and how we’re all connected, how walls don’t work and what we really need are bridges to help us focus more on connecting through relationships.

He shared that he was reading a most interesting book of poetry by Lorna Dee Cervantes, who holds that “A poem is a song for people with bad voices.” (I resemble that!) His point was that although his first thought was how different she is from him, he was able to find points of connection that allowed him to more deeply appreciate her poetry.

His last bit of advice was to “have a holy unrest with the walls; you really can get there from here.”

What I’ve learned about walls is this: yes, they work to keep people away, but eventually they become a prison because they also keep out people you love. I’ve learned that protecting oneself can be costly and lonely, and even if I get hurt, I’ll live. I’ve worked hard to bring down some of those walls of self-protection, and I’m learning a whole new way to live. At least now I feel like I AM living, because living behind walls made me feel like I may as well be dead.

If it sounds like I took this sermon to heart, you’re absolutely right. For me, this sermon was divine guidance.

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