The congregations of six Key Peninsula churches, about 400 people, gathered for an open-air service including worship, communion and group prayer July 15 at Gateway Park in Wauna.
Attendees sat on the gently upward slope near the playground. Some brought canopies and umbrellas to reduce the heat and glare, while others took shelter under the trees around the main field. The service lasted about two hours, and some attendees stayed afterward for an informal picnic.
A band of musicians from several churches, including pastors and members of local group The Bluegrass Minstrel provided both hymns and contemporary Christian music. Worship was followed by brief prayer, where the congregation broke into groups of five to pray for healing and prosperity on the Key Peninsula.
Several pastors shared responsibilty for the introduction and leading prayers throughout the service and communion.
Dennis Fuqua, author of several prayer-focused books and director of a ministry based in Vancouver, Washington, gave the sermon. Fuqua, who grew up in the Key Peninsula area, spoke on the opening verses of Psalm 133 and on unity among Christians on the KP.
“When the body of Christ on the Key Peninsula walks as one, works as one, worships as one, even though they’re in different locations, they are distinguished. That’s how people know you are followers of Christ,” Fuqua said, emphasizing the need for churches to know each other, act as a unified community and support each other in individual and group evangelism.
Six local churches collaborated in the service: Lakebay Community, Key to Life, Wellspring Fellowship, Waypoint, Grace Evangelical Presbyterian and Longbranch Community. The event has been in planning since the fall of 2017 when the idea came up in a monthly fellowship that several KP pastors attend.
“I was impressed by the unity that we got. We have people from all the churches here, doing things that religious people don’t always do together. We shared in communion…we worshipped together and we had one speaker––that’s a big deal,” said Mark Klingler, discipleship pastor of Waypoint Church..
Some of the pastors acknowledged differences in the way the churches conduct their weekly services but chose to focus on areas where they could find agreement instead. Asking Fuqua to preach the main message was another move toward avoiding unnecessary conflicts.
“We didn’t want any one of us to speak, so it was intentional that we got someone from the outside so we’re not promoting our own churches,” Klingler said.
Attendees enjoyed the chance to interact with other Christians from outside their own churches. Several commented on the surprising size of the gathering and on the diversity of churches represented.
“I didn’t realize there were so many churches out here— I just think it’s a cool opportunity for all these different churches to come together and worship,” said event participant Bri Maxted. “It was good to be able to be very inclusive, because that’s the way Jesus is.”