On Sunday morning, November 8, my wife Linda and I went over to the Vet’s Hall for breakfast and for $5 were treated to a delicious pancake, sausage, egg, and fruit breakfast. The breakfast was served by three very friendly vets. We arrived at about 9 a.m. We were the only ones there. One of the gentlemen told us that the breakfast takes place once a month and they usually get a good showing between 10 and 10:30.
We figured that most of the people in town were in church or getting ready to go to church. After breakfast and a nice conversation, Linda and I decided to drive around town and see the churches.
We headed back up Main Street and the first church we saw was the Word of Life Assembly of God at 37341 Main Street. The main Pastor is Ken Frazier.
Their parking lot was full. They have services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. I’ve never attended the services but Linda has set up for their annual craft show in the past. Also, the daughter of one of the pastors was my certified health care advisor at the Burney Health Clinic.
Next we drove by the old Burney Presbyterian Church, which is now closed.
There was some disagreement with the national Presbyterian Church. I’m not informed enough to explain, but the church property is under the control of the Presbyterian Church and the congregation has now formed the New Hope Evangelical Presbyterian Church and meets at 37095 Main Street, Suite C, behind Burney Valley Real Estate. They have their services at 10:30 a.m.
I do have some history with the Burney Presbyterian Church because it was built back when my grandfather Ray Berry was general manager of the Scott Lumber Company. In the late 1950’s, when I used to spend summers on the Black Ranch, we used to attend services there. My grandfather donated a really nice pipe organ and used to play for the services. Later, when the church began to turn to more modern music rather than the old hymns (which I loved to sing), my mom, Alice Stone, donated money so they could buy a new music system. Also, my mom and my grandmother were regular contributors to the church, and my mom used to like to attend prayer meetings there.
So, I’m wondering what is to become of the church property. Will there be a new minister or will they sell the property to someone else?
Next, we drove through town and turned left on Tamarack. We went past the Solid Rock Four Square Church. There service is at 10:30 a.m. The pastor is Sheadon Crabtree. Linda and I did attend Easter Service there last year and it was very pleasant.
I find attending any denominations services to be worthwhile because the readings deepen my familiarity with the Bible and the sermons give me new perspectives and things to think and pray about. Linda and I often have lengthy conversations after listening to a sermon. I also am grateful for the opportunity to pray together with other people and share fellowship. Jesus said that when two or more are gathered together in his name, he will be there, so I often feel the Holy Spirit when attending a church.
One of the things that I enjoyed attending the Solid Rock church was being introduced to Aimee Semple McPherson, a very fascinating and influential woman with quite a testimony.
Then we drove past the casino to the Grace Community Bible Church, an Independent Fundamental Bible Church. Their Pastor is Henry Winkelman. There were a few cars there for the Sunday School. Sunday morning service begins at 11 a.m.
Then Linda and I drove back up to the highway and across to Timber Lane. There are three churches over in this area: The Faith Lutheran Church, The First Baptist Church, and the St Francis Catholic Church.
One of the summers when I stayed at the ranch, Grandpa Ray hired a student from Shasta College to take care of me, my brother and my cousins. We lived in the little white house down Burney Creek by the chicken coup. The student’s name was Bruno. He came from Germany and he was Catholic, so for that summer we attended St. Francis Catholic Church every Sunday.
I hadn’t been there for years, but when my friend Gerald died a few years ago I attended his funeral service there and met the priest, Father Hector Montoya. The parking lot at St. Francis was packed.
When we drove into the parking lot of the First Baptist Church we were greeted by a very friendly Pastor Troy. Sunday school had started at 9:45 but services would begin at 11.
I told him that Linda and I had had breakfast at the Vets Hall and were taking a tour of the churches. He welcomed us and invited us to attend. I asked what he was going to preach on.
“Do you believe in the gifts?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
He told me that I should come because the Holy Spirit had inspired him yesterday that someone who had prayed for something for a long time would receive it today.
“That could be me!” I said.
He told us that we would be welcome to attend anytime.
Well, that was seven churches that we had seen so far in Burney. One that we missed was the Burney Church of Christ on Superior Avenue behind the old Post Office.
There is also the Intermountain Baptist Church with Pastor Bud Hennessey on Marquette. They have a Sunday Bible study at 10 a.m. and service at 11 a.m. and 6p.m. This church is not far from our house and Linda has enjoyed services there several times. The property this church is on used to belong to my grandmother.
One day, my mom stopped by my grandmother’s and my grandmother said, “I just sold that piece of property on Marquette to the nicest young minister and he is going to build a church there!”
She was so happy that the property would be used as a church to benefit the community. I often walk through the trees on the trail in front of the church as I go to the cemetery to pray at my grandmother’s gravesite. It is really lovely, like a park.
America has such a rich religious history. I recommend reading A Religious History of the American People by Sydney E. Ahlstrom just to get an overview. The Spirit has moved in many ways through our history giving birth to reformations, revivals, and movements that have been integral to our history.
The diversity of religious opinion, doctrine and practice has not only been evident in divisions amongst denominations but within denominations. Baptists are a good example of this. When I was a seminary student at Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown, New York, I attended an American Baptist Church in Albany on Sunday for two year’s. Later, in Maryland I had a friend who was a pastor of a small independent conservative Baptist congregation. He brought me along to a conference of various fundamentalist Baptist ministers. While they shared certain basic beliefs, the diversity of theological and doctrinal disputes amongst them befuddled me. Yet the disputes raged in a cheerful and respectful atmosphere of brotherhood. While all the pastors differed on various points, they all respected each other’s commitments to Christ and to serving their flocks.
Back to this Sunday in Burney, Linda and I got back on the highway and drove past the Community Center where another congregation meets each week under the teaching ministry of Pat Nugent. Linda and I have attended services there several times. Pat generally reads a portion of the Bible and provides an exegesis.
Then we went on to Johnson Park where we drove past the Pentecostal Church (cars just beginning to arrive).
Further down we came upon the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall, where the parking lot was full.
Linda and I enjoy the friendship of a number of Witnesses. Linda has attended many services. This past Spring I attended a commemorative service during Easter week. Also Linda had an opportunity to act as a caretaker for one elderly woman before she passed away and we attended her memorial service at the Kingdom Hall.
I admire all people of faith. I also respect and give thanks for all of those members of the clergy who seek to provide spiritual food and guidance to the various faith communities. In Burney we are fortunate to have a variety of churches and it is good to know that each week congregations are meeting to worship, study, pray, and share fellowship because this nourishes the spiritual life of our community and bears fruit as it inspires people to strive for betterment and to serve the community in various ways. May God bless them all.
Personally, I have not been a regular church-goer for some time. After today’s tour of the churches of Burney, I think that Linda and I will begin to visit the various churches to hear the sermons and share in the fellowship.
I also want to mention my gratitude to the Mormon missionaries who visit our homes. I have enjoyed the company of several and one, Elder Stein, moved me to read the Book of Mormon. I also attended one service in Fall River which was quite inspiring and definitely spirit-filled.
When my mother was dying of cancer and I was her primary caretaker in Hospice, a minister from the Seventh Day Adventist Church came each week to visit. My mom was always delighted as we sang songs together. Another friend of mine attends the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Round Mountain.
I love to pray with people of all denominations. I love to share inspiration and ideas with people of all faiths. Prayer knows no denominational barriers. The spirit blows where it will. It is not bound by human opinion.
I am also grateful that we have several Hindus in our community. I have shared very beneficial conversations on the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana.
I have a group of friends with whom I meet on Friday nights. We discuss personal, social, and spiritual ideas and issues and then sing “Hu.” In Redding and Mt Shasta, I have friends with whom I discuss yoga, mystical philosophy and sometimes chant “Om.” I am also grateful to have been able to discuss Grandfather Spirit and to have shared song and dance with some of our Achomawi brothers and sisters.
I read the Bible, the Quran, the I Ching, the Tao te Ching, the Upanishads, the Dhammapada, and the Bhagavad Gita and other sacred texts. I don’t necessarily believe everything that I read, but I find wisdom in all these texts. I find that they all point to the Way, and I respect all people of the Way.
I pray that the most high God can help me to understand the truth as much as a I am capable of understanding. But above all I seek to love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind.
It is difficult to ascend Jacob’s ladder. I have many failings, but I thank God for his mercy and his blessings.
I also thank and pray for all of the people of faith in Pit River Country who are seeking to discover the Kingdom of Heaven within. In this time when there is so much division and animosity between people of different religions, races, and ethnic backgrounds, I pray that men and women of love and faith can facilitate reconciliation.
Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven…
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