Grace Lutheran Church, 179 Holiday Island Drive, Holiday Island
I visited the Berryville United Methodist Church last month to kick off a series of articles about how our rich community of churches celebrates their faith. The idea of reviewing churches is stolen from the Philadelphia Inquirer. The goal of the reviews is to let casual visitors, or people looking for a church home, know what to expect when they visit one. This past Sunday I stopped by Grace Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Holiday Island.
Before going much further let me say that the Holiday Island Lutherans are delighted to have you visit them. But one does not become a Lutheran by visiting or asking for membership; it is not a ya'll come down denomination; one becomes a Lutheran after much study, reflection, and a shared exploration between prospective member and church clergy. People interested in learning more about becoming a Lutheran can attend the "Lutheranism 101" class taught by Vicar James Moore.
I enjoyed my visit quite a lot, especially because Grace Lutheran may have the most beautiful sanctuary of any church in the Ozarks. Viewed from the outside, the architecture is utilitarian but graceful. Lutheran church design tends toward the modern and clearly respects its northern European--German and Scandinavian--cultural heritage; the Holiday Island church fits into that tradition and is spare, responsive to light, and utterly symmetrical.
Grace Lutheran is a small church. I suppose it seats a hundred people. On entering, you face a glass wall that opens out to one of our Ozark valleys, powerful proof of both God's existence and God's Goodness, and an emphatic invitation to thank who Alexander Pope called "the Genius of the place."
Worship in this congregation is formal and ritualistic and focuses on the sacrament of Communion. Members participated by closely following an order of services laid out in a fairly bulky church bulletin that I got when I came in. To the extent that I understand these things, Lutherans are Trinitarian. Members recited the Nicene Creed, using the version from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with modernized spelling of the words "catholic" and "apostolic", with changes in capitalization of these and other words, and with "Holy Spirit" in place of "Holy Ghost". Lutherans apparently reject the idea that the Father and the Son are merely faces of the same person, stating that both the Old Testament and the New Testament show them to be two distinct persons.
In contrast to its very "high church" service was a plainspoken and direct sermon by the church's pastor, Reverend Kenneth Haydon. Very briefly, Pastor Haydon told how acquiring faith is sometimes like painting a picture. We begin with a clean (empty) canvas and begin adding brush strokes that may seem isolated and unrelated to one another. But as more brush strokes are added, first the idea and then the fact of faith begins to emerge. The sermon lasted only about 10 minutes but I thought about it all day--the test a good sermon passes.
Services at Grace Lutheran start at 9:30 AM, followed by fellowship in the church hall. If you are interested in visiting a very beautiful church, and participating in a very formal and traditional style of worship, stop by any Sunday.