Church: Santa Barbara Seventh-Day Adventist, 425 Arroyo Rd.
Service Attended: Saturday, October 27, 10:50 a.m.
Pastor: Pete Geli
Denomination: Seventh-Day Adventist
Congregation Size: 200
Services: Saturday 9:00 a.m. Prayer Group, Saturday 9:15 a.m. Sabbath School, Saturday 10:50 a.m. Church Service, Wednesday 7:00 p.m. Mid-Week Service
Contact: Call 967-9615 or visit knowjesusfully.com
This week’s Santa Barbara Seventh-Day Adventist Church service was a little out of the ordinary. Rather than the usual sermon, which would be delivered by Pastor Pete Geli, the day’s program featured the congregation’s children’s choir, who sang hymns and delivered Bible verses and commentary from the podium.
One striking aspect of this church’s congregation is, actually, the large number of children in attendance. Other churches visited by Your Worship have generally been heavily attended by older people, but the Adventists have a much more balanced demographic. The ages ranged from infant to elderly, and most ethnicities present in Santa Barbara were represented in the group. However, only about 120 of the 200 person congregation were there today, and the large room could have held many more.
It could be that this smaller attendance was prompted by the lack of a sermon; the pastor’s wife informed me that most of the congregation enjoy and look forward to Pastor Geli’s sermons, which he says are “Biblical, Christ-centered and relevant.” Once a year, he told me, he spends a week in meditation and prayer, and thinks carefully about the needs of his church’s members. He chooses the Bible passages on which he will focus for the entire year during this week, but he also leaves room, he says, for inspiration.
The congregation as a whole seemed to feel that inspiration during their worship, and sang and responded enthusiastically to the readings offered by the church’s youth. They also practice their faith on a day-to-day basis, not only through spreading the word of their faith but through community service. A collection was taken for victims of the San Diego county wildfires, and members of the church were encouraged to leave non-perishable food items by their front doors for the church’s youth group to pick up on Halloween - a generous reinterpretation of the holiday’s usual treats.
The church also enjoys an unusually large group of volunteer musicians, who make up a small orchestra. They play during the beginning and end of the service, and accompany hymns, and they’re quite talented - at least one of them plays for the Santa Barbara Symphony. As a whole, the congregation seems to enjoy their faith, and contribute whatever skills and talents they have. They may have come for the worship, but I suspect they stayed for the friendly congregation and welcoming atmosphere.