Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Happy Father's Day At Ecclesia Church and Weird Ozzy Osbourne CD Signing

Divine Providence:
I was very late for my regular Sunday service at Living Faith and a bit too sore and worn for the commute to Eagle Rock, so I spent my Father's Day visiting #20 on my "Before I Go" list (kind of my Bucket List but for must sees before I leave L.A.). #20 is Ecclesia Church, a non-denominational evangelical with services in the famed Pacific Theater right on Hollywood Blvd. along the Walk of Stars. I had wanted to visit this church since it moved to it's present location, which is the exact spot I stood at on my first day in L.A. when my heart broke and I prayed for the lost and tragic souls of the City of Angels. Wow, God answers prayers!

The Atmosphere:I was a bit late for the 11:15 a.m. service but I was greeted warmly by a group of 20-30 somethings and graciously escorted inside, right pass a homeless looking guy on the street who was shouting at passer-bys and looked inebriated. The security and prayer teams gently ministered to the guy outside as others on the "welcome committee" invited strolling tourists to the church service as they walked by. Everyone wore name badges so I knew who did what and I was delivered to the capable hands of Matt whose badge said "ask me for help... I know stuff". They are really organized but with a since of humor(lol).

Since Ecclesia is in a theater like Living Faith Church, I immediately felt at home. Both churches share similar layouts but the Pacific Theater is on a grander scale. I was in love with the high ceilings, large doors, ornate gold trims and theater-style foyer. Inside is a large capacity theater with theater-style seating, lateral wings, a balcony and a large stage.

Above the stage is hung a large worn and empty wooden cross, signifying the victory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the same cross that traveled with the church as it moved 7 times in 5 years before they finally settled on Hollywood Blvd. The cross is flanked by lights strung in a star pattern and a projection screen lies below it for projecting the scriptural and song text for the service. The stage also houses the set-up and musical instruments for a 5 piece band and 2 singers.

The Word:
We entered quietly as the service had started. The room was full of people and Matt ushered me to a seat next to more 20-30 somethings and their families. In fact, I must have been the oldest there but it was so refreshing to see young people in Hollywood glorifying God! I settled in and listened to a guest speaker, Danica, on 1 Peter Chap 3: 8-17

8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

Romans Chap: 2 and 4,

Both of these passages are all about us showing a Christ-like attitude to the world. Danica contrasts life as a Christian in Peter's time to our time here in the West and how these Bible passages still apply. As examples to us, she talks a bit about the native New Yorkers' unexpectedly kind attitude towards her while on her New York City trip. She also talked about how we should not be judgemental, "me"-centered or judgemental . In fact, she states that we should be as her 18 month old daughter, Thorn, when she showed her natural humanity to a homeless man they'd met. As only a child could, Thorn gave a wondrous wave, an accepting smile and a softly spoken "hi" to the man and proved these Bible scriptures to her mother and perhaps helped the homeless man reclaimed a part of his own humanity as he said a soft "hi" back.

This study of 1 Peter was part of the church's series called "We Will Not Bend: the ferocious faith of an exile". Danica closed with a prayer asking God to help us be like Jesus to a lost world "right outside our doors".

A Call For Prayer:
They made a call for any one in need of prayer to meet with the various prayer teams in the wings of the theater. From my seat I could see many people going for prayer and the prayer team of both men and women were laying hands on them and praying. One young woman fell to her knees and they prayed for her there.

Praise and Worship:
Then the praise and worship team got on stage and did a wonderful job. Everyone got to their feet, raised their hands and sang from the heart, especially when they did "Inside Out" (one of my favs). The praise team leader and guitarist/lead singer looked like singer Chris Daughtry but with a nose-ring. The sound of the music, voices and arrangements led me to believe that some of the praise and worship team were professional musicians. The Daughtry prayed a strong prayer over us before we left also, which was truly a blessing.

**Note: I found out later that the Daughtry look alike is the current lead pastor of the church as the founding pastor, Brandon Dickerson, has returned to his film career. If interested you can see a video interview with Brandon from 2009 about the challenges of the faithful in Hollywood at

After the service:
Many people greeted me and introduced themselves and I felt totally at home. I even got a few hugs, two invitations to hang out with homegroups over lunch and a
"be-yoou-ti-ful" wave "hello" from 18 month old Thorn. The projectionist were adjusting the equipment when images of the movie, Sunset Boulevard, pops on the screen and the iconic images of Gloria Swanson coming down the staircase for that closing "Mr. Deville close-up" scene. I checked the church pamphlet and I talked with the projectionists and it turns out they are showing Sunset Boulevard next Sunday at 2 p.m. as part of their Cineminklings series where they discuss an iconic movie, what it meant and how faith fits in with it. Whoopee for me! I tell you, church and movies all in one place!

It was time to go so I went to the foyer and passed the bake sale table for the Kenya mission in my search for the ladies room. I went down the 25 steps (yes I counted them) and spent some time admiring the kids' room and the theater's architecture. Then a kind security woman, doing her last pass, came and told me they were locking up. I "raced" up the stairs and out as they were pulling the large iron gate in place.

The church members of the clean up crew including Matt thanked me for visiting and invited me back. I walked with them a half block then stopped to rest a bit. Matt returned to check on me, worried that I had a lost look on my face like I didn't know my way around the neighborhood. I assured him that I did but that now that I was fed with the word, I needed to feed the body... specifically I wanted some fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner later and I was considering going shopping for some right then. He suggested the monthly Farmer's Market a block away then we waved good bye again.

The Young And The Grounded:
I saw one or two tattoos and piercings but all members were Christ-minded. Though young, all the members of Ecclesia easily converse about Bible scriptures and talked openly about how God has moved in their lives. They all volunteer in some way to various duties of the church and they belong to "homegroups" which meet in their respective neighborhoods to study the Bible together when not at church. They are young and you can feel the Holy Spirit moving within them.

They Are Humble And On A Mission(s):
Some are in the entertainment industry on many levels but they do not act like they are, which is a good thing. Additionally, the church discloses it's monthly earnings in tithes and offerings and tithes 10% monthly into another church or mission. This month goes to 2 places Friends of Gahrwal, a ministry partner planting home churches in the Himalayan region of India and the International Justice Mission, which helps rescue kids from slavery and prostitution in South Asia. I have been interested in helping these missions since I started following Gospel for Asia online so I made a small offering even though they asked for visitors not to do so.

My Take:
This is a nice church and a "must visit" if you are passing through Hollywood.

Visit Ecclessia on line at

Ozzy CD Signing At Amoeba Music
On the flip side: I strolled through the farmers' market as they were packing up and meandered my way to the Sunset Boulevard where I saw a tightly bunched throng of goth-looking, grungy black clad patrons standing in a long line that wrapped around the famed store on Sunset Boulevard. I thought is was a flash mob for a minute as they ran across the street on signal from someone at Amoeba Records. It turns out that it was a CD signing for Ozzy Osbourne at Amoeba Records. The event was at 5 pm and the line was already out of control at 1 pm. The crowd looked like the usual wanna-be rocker types, all 20-30 somethings loving the chance to be counter-cultural, rebellious and revolutionary... typical holly"weird".

Thankfully though, there wasn't the usual pungent marijuana smell that always seems to surrounds that area or maybe it was just too early in the day(lol).

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