Sunday service at First Church of the Nazarene may seem like just another chapel session, but when you take a closer look there’s more than meets the eye. For this week’s church review, I decided to focus on a service closer to the heart of Loma. It’s the first official church service we attend as a freshman, and I’ve found that we quickly write it off. Not many freshman I’ve talked to have considered First Church as one of their top choices.
While there, I spoke with Point Loma alumni Tyler Ellison. Ellison graduated in May of 2019 with a degree in philosophy. He quickly found a home at First Church and began interning there the summer of his junior year. Associate pastor Melissa Tucker soon offered him a position as the Administrations and Communications Assistant.
Often times church internships are associated with Christian Studies majors, but this isn’t the case at First Church. According to Ellison, First Church encourages all types of majors to get involved.
“Like other churches, First Church is a non-profit, so First Church can give a lot of insight into the world of other organizations,” Ellison says. “My friend Lexi is a social work major and was able to get experience on our social justice and advocacy team. There’s something here for everyone.”
The actual service was around an hour and a half, but senior pastor, Dee Kelley, made the sermon interactive with the inclusion of personal objects used to explain the message. He spoke on how becoming more like Jesus helps make it like Christmas everyday, a classic message with a creative twist. The service began and ended with multiple worship songs, including some Nazarene hymns mixed with popular songs we hear in chapel.
First Church is moderately sized, but they have lots of opportunities for college students to find community. Their college group meets Sunday nights from 5:30-7:00. They do a teaching led by Tucker, a free dinner and small group, which discusses relevant topics ranging anywhere from mental health to sex and relationships.
Tatum Tricarico, a junior Christian studies major, says “First Church is different. The people there focus on loving every person for who they are. The church pays attention to the fact that people are created in the image of God.”
Tricarico found she was able to easily form relationships with the people at First Church. She says that once she formed those relationships, “serving the church came naturally.”
While both Ellison and Tricarico have been involved in college group, there are many opportunities through Junior High and High School ministries to fellowship with other members of the church.
Morgan Rego, a freshman double majoring in Christian studies and philosophy, and Cady Kinzler, a freshman child development major, both grew up in Nazarene communities. Kinzler says that Loma is comfortable. She wants “to continue going to a Nazarene church for the time being but [she] also want[s] to test out other places.”
Rego says she also feels comfortable going to a Nazarene school, but it’s “frightening because you can’t help but wonder what else is out there.”
While Kinzler is attending Nazarene churches for now, Rego is trying other denominations.
College is a time for figuring out who you are, so there’s no shame in branching out from your previous denomination to make your faith your own.
“No matter if you’re Roman Catholic, Nazarene, Presbyterian or Luthern, it all comes down to loving God and loving others,” Rego says.
If you don’t mind the lack of air conditioning and want to enjoy some stellar free donuts, First Church will welcome you with open arms.