Disciples News Service

California church plant makes difference in community

by Christopher Drury

Garfield Park Community Church (Disciples of Christ) in Santa Cruz, CA, began with a question.

“What would it look like if we stopped complaining about the condition of the church, and actually built a progressive, young, missional community with a modern edge that attracts non-church goers, younger people, and liberal/progressives while simultaneously combating the massive problems within conservative evangelical christendom?”

That question led us to constructing a community unlike anything many ever experienced.

  • Our community donates 100 percent of our Sunday morning tithes and offerings to local community service organizations that fight for LGBTQ rights, refugees, people of color, the environment, animal rights, women’s rights, native rights, and those experiencing homelessness unless designated otherwise by the giver.
  • We are open and affirming of the LGBTQ community. We embrace science from the pulpit. We are proud to stand with Black Lives Matter. We stand with Standing Rock. We are environmentally conscious. We are feminists. We are pacifists. We do not believe in bans or walls. Some are questioning skeptics. We all are activists… and we are growing. We planted this community two years ago with 8 people and currently have 50-75 on a weekly basis with a membership of about 150.
  • People that have been damaged by the church, and people that do not identify as “Christians” are coming to our church, and joining the community. Thirty to 40 percent of our church members identify as atheist or agnostic. They embrace our teachings as ethical principles as we embrace them into our inclusive community despite our differing beliefs.
  • Our facility functions as a community center for nonprofits and the people of Santa Cruz Monday- Saturday of each week.
  • We are currently installing a bee sanctuary on our grounds, and have plans to open a cafe/pub that gives all profits to social justice and humanitarian efforts if we can raise the funds to do so.
  • Our worship service is unlike anything many people have experienced in church. Our music is excellent, loud, edgy and modern. We sing a blend of positive secular songs, hymns, and modern worship tunes.  We incorporate a discussion time during worship and our congregation is seated at round tables, not rows. Each table is equipped with its own communion set as a center piece. During communion they serve one another at our open tables.
  • Our sanctuary is also an art gallery. Local artists display their work, free of charge, and donate a percentage of the profits to local charities. We have a local organization give a short presentation every Sunday before a short sermon related to their area of service.
  • Sunday nights we have an interfaith service called “Faith on Tap” in which people, and leaders of all faiths share beer, wine, cider, and food as we make plans to work together for justice in our nation, and our city.

We have a long way to go, but we are proud and grateful to plant this church within the Disciples of Christ.

For more info contact our lead pastor Christopher Drury at gpccsantacruz@gmail.com