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Baptized as Assembly of God, raised in a strict Penecostal tradition by a very religious family, left God behind at 17 after questioning beliefs and realizing all the hypocrisy inherent in any dogmatic paradigm. Studied Buddhism, Judaism, Satanism, and Wicca before declaring myself a pantheist, and then ultimately, an atheist. The death of my wife on Sep. 15, 2009 has cause me to rethink and challenge many of my beliefs. This blog is a reflection of and a reaction to those challenges.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week 2 - Evangelical Christian

This week's church is New Vintage Church at the Wells Fargo Center, just north of Santa Rosa. It is an evangelical congregation – an offshoot of a traditional Baptist church, in fact – whose core beliefs are that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and therefore without error and that God exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The mostly youthful 1,000-member congregation markets itself as "the church for people who don't like church". The services are raucous, often accompanied by high-energy rock music and hip, upbeat messages relevant to modern daily life, though still steeped in the infallible word of God.

While the services are drastically different from what I was exposed to as a child, the core beliefs are pretty much identical, so I doubt I will hear anything I am unfamiliar with. While I am trying to approach this project without prejudice, bias, or expectation, my feeling is there will be nothing I see or hear this week that will convince me that my decision to leave evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity was the wrong choice.

N.B.: The Wells Fargo Center, where New Vintage is based, was originally the Christian Life Center, a 5,000-member, 140,000-square-foot mega-church founded in the 1970s by the late Rev. A. Watson Argue, Jr. The building was sold for $4.5 million to local civic leaders at auction in 1981 after Argue filed for bankruptcy and his church collapsed in a financial scandal. 

After the sale, it was transformed into the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, a concert and entertainment venue. Today, it is the Wells Fargo Center, home to the Santa Rosa Symphony and the premier concert venue in the North Bay that has hosted nationally- and internationally-renowned musical artists, comedians, and other entertainers. The Center also rents space to a professional theatre company, a private school and church groups, New Vintage among them.


  1. The idea of this makes my skin crawl, probably a result of my strict southern baptist upbringing. I am happy to not be accompanying you this week. Have fun, though - I know some people who play music for the church periodically and that part looks great.

  2. One of my FB friends...Kyle Nahas is very active at New Vintage and in it's productions...he's goes to Piner is is the son of a dear friend.

    and yes...I do remember CLC and Rev Argue

  3. We've been attending New Vintage since long before it was NV. It used to be 1st Baptist on Sonoma Avenue. When it was clear that the church was dying and down to 100 people, Andy was brought in to turn it around and within a few years NV outgrew the Sonoma campus, thus the move to Wells Fargo. I too studied Eastern religions as a philosophy major in college. I was raised a Catholic and my wife Southern Baptist. We stuck with the church during its metamorphosis from Baptist to Evangelical. There are only about 5 or 6 of us who did. The band is terrific and often has guest lead singers some of whom you will have heard of (the regular lead singer, Amy, died after a long illness about a year ago).

    Anyway, I will look forward to your impressions of the church. My son in law who was not raised in church and has been to NV a few times sums up the experience perfectly. He says after the service, he just feels better.