Wednesday, February 16, 2011


When we lived in Malibu, we quickly learned that the nearest Mennonite congregation was in Pasadena which was then pastored by Jim Brenneman who is now President of Goshen College.  Since Pasadena was an hours drive, we checked out a few of the local churches - the Campus Church of Christ and Malibu Presbyterian, a church popular with the protestant Pepperdine folks who are not C of C.  It was at Malibu Pres that we were once seated behind Rande Gerber and wife Cindy Crawford.  During meet and greet Rhonda was stymied by the gender of their young son, and simply commented that they had a beautiful child.  We found this to be a fairly common situation - a mop-headed, gender-neutral dressed tyke with a name that did not help at all - Sky, Dakota, Phoenix, Sage, etc.

One Sunday we decided to check out the Malibu Vineyard.  We had noticed that there were many cars coming and going at the very non-church looking building on Stuart Ranch Road.  We liked the fact that they had an early service which had to finish on time to make room for the second service.  What stood out immediately was the music.  The worship music folks were basically all professionals of some sort and were dedicated to playing fine worship music.  Talk about diametric to the typical Mennonite a capella four part harmonies!  Rock and roll, performance quality, emotional and uplifting.

We attended during the Vineyard's heyday- Pastor Dave Owen had overseen the growth of the church and its move from meeting space at Webster Elementary School to a multimillion dollar complex anchored by a theater style auditorium with professional quality sound and lighting systems.  There were two morning services and an evening service and other activities during the week.  Dave was a dynamic South African who's theology was quite Anabaptist and style was charismatic evangelical.  You can read about the rise and fall of the Malibu Vineyard in the Malibu Times, but to summarize a very long story - personality focused church; leadership clash; fiscal irregularities; schism; terminal illness; congregation dwindles from 2500 to 25; bankruptcy and dissolution.

We very much enjoyed the music and creative arts at the Vineyard - with the majority of people in the Southland employed in "the industry"  the professionalism displayed is not too surprising.  The music leaders included Charity Chapman, Steve Counsel, and probably our favorite, Kate Miner.  A representative video can be found here.  Drama and other visual productions were capably handled by folks like D. David Morin and Joel Daavid.

Another fascinating aspect of the Vineyard was the attendees of note, from the rich folks such as Michael Hammer to celebs such as Gary Busey and Pam Anderson, a regular attendee.  It seemed as though Dave and Sylvia Owen were the church celebs who could relate to the Malibu glitterati.  Our favorite celeb story occurred during a California visit of Rhonda's brother Ken and wife Ann.  As we pulled in to the Vineyard parking lot [in our very distinct green Subaru], Rhonda remarked "Watch for a big white Escalade because that's what Pam Anderson usually drives."  Sure enough, the white Escalade rolled in, but Pam was in the passenger seat, her two boys were in the back seat, and there was a male driver.  As they all got out of the car, we noted that the familiar looking man had a nicely groomed pony tail, and I said "It's Kid Rock."  Ken said "No way!!"  And then we all agreed it was indeed the Kid.  So Ken and Ann marked it down as a memorable occasion - going to church with Pam Anderson and Kid Rock.


Bizzy Brain said...

I can see Dr. S in Heaven now. "P-Pam? Pam Anderson? You're up here? Wow! Great! Hey! Anybody seen Jimmuh Carter? No? Figures."

Dr S said...

Bizzy Brain - I can also see you standing in line to chat with Pam about Jimmy's absence!

jmoyer said...

Pam might make it but kid rock has a smowball's chance

Valerie Thorp said...

Our 2yo son Rowan has a mop-head of hair, and despite the fact that he often dresses like a "boy", people in our rural county always mistake him for a girl. They are not as polite as Rhonda though. When we are in SoCal, he is almost never mistaken for a girl. Oh, and our first son's middle name is Sage. ;-)
I like this photo article about child presentation through a few centuries.

Dr S said...

VT - humorous and interesting! We do not see as many mop-heads here in CO as we did in CA, although there are still occasions when we are very careful about making any 'assumptions.' :-) One of our niece's daughters is named Sage, and it is an example of one of those names that can go either way. Nice name, either way!