ABOUT US

WHO WE ARE

Founded in 1866, St. Paul Lutheran Church is a place where you will always be welcomed. By serving through relationships and love, St. Paul is a place where everyone can grow spiritually.

WHAT WE DO

Our mission is “To know and serve Christ by reaching out in love to all” and we believe in the importance of involving and experiencing God in all areas of your life. There are countless ways to grow in your involvement and your faith at St. Paul; regardless of where you are in your journey, there is a place for you here.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Members and first time guests alike, we invite you to get connected to the community. Whether you're attending service on a Sunday, dropping in on a small group meeting, or stopping by to chat with Pastor Dan, you can anticipate a positive, encouraging experience.

PASTOR SKILLMAN
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"We love the God we cannot see by loving and serving our neighbor, who we can see."

American Christianity Is Not Christian

            I am an ordained pastor in a major mainline denomination. I was trained at a rigorous seminary: Three academic years on top of my bachelor’s degree, and two years of internships. I’ve studied Greek, Hebrew, hermeneutics, ancient history, American history, sociology, politics…you name it. I’ve easily written a million words on the subject of Christianity. That’s the equivalent of 20 books. I’ve met countless pastors from all over the world. And I have served in churches for my entire adult life.
           Given my credentials, I hope you’ll hear me out when I talk about the state of Christianity in America today. I haven’t conducted a formal study, so, understand that I’m simply speaking out of my experience and intuition. But given that, I’m convinced that if you turn on a YouTube sermon, or pick up a book from the local “Christian book store,” or God-forbid, stumble into a church on a Sunday morning, you are more likely to encounter a deeply heretical and nationalistic religion than anything approaching a common sense reading of Jesus in the four Gospels, or the dominant and widespread Christianity that has existed for nearly 2,000 years.
           This leads me to offer you the following six thoughts. 

1.      Most of American Christianity is not Christian. Period. I’m not basing that statement on historic disagreements about academic theology. This is not a question of exacting dogmatic purity. I’m saying that many of those calling themselves Christian are so obviously loveless and idolatrous, chasing after the gods of capitalism and nationalism to the point of open cruelty toward others, that they should not be recognized as Christian. They look nothing like Jesus Christ. And so, they have forfeited the name. More bishops, pastors, lay-leaders, and everyday Christians need to be bold about saying that publicly. At this point in history, if those who are doing their level best to follow Jesus (although always imperfectly owing to the difficulty of such an endeavor) do not speak clearly on this issue, the time is fast coming when the very name Christian will be a hindrance to evangelism. As it stands, in much of unchurched America, the name Christian is already almost synonymous with pride, arrogance, ignorance, and hate.

2.      I cannot in good faith recommend that anyone “go to church.” It just isn’t that simple. Sad to say, going to church is like playing a game of roulette, and not the kind that merely robs you blind over time. I’m talking about the Russian kind. I don’t enjoy saying this, but I find it to be necessary. If someone asks me generically if they should go to church in America, I tell them, “No.” I think that this is a faithful Christian response in our times.

3.      None of this is to denigrate Christianity or the Church. No one should judge a 2,000-year-old, world-wide religion, much less the message of Jesus, based on what we see coming out of American “Christianity.” Christianity itself is a noble religion and shouldn’t be evaluated based on the behavior of 21st century American Christians. This is not an example of the “no true Scotsman fallacy.” I’m telling you that when you go to the source material (the 4 Gospels) and the broad history of the Church around the world, what is happening to Christianity is an aberration, and demonstrably so.

4.      There are good Christians, good pastors, and good churches in the United States. By good, I mean those who are sincerely trying to follow the Jesus of the four Gospels. They may disagree on any number of theological formulations, but they have been captured by the spirit of unconditional love for all people that seeks to bring heaven to earth, so to speak, and improve people’s lives as much as possible while there is still life to be lived.

5.      If you attend a church, or if you are considering attending one, it behooves you to consider deeply which church to attend. Participating in the life of a church because of the style of its music, or the charisma of its pastor, or the convenience of its location and service times, or even because “you’ve always gone there” have always been poor reasons to choose a church home. However, today, those reasons might just place you in a church that practices cruelty instead of compassion, worships at the altar of capitalism instead of at the foot of the cross, and prioritizes the American way over the way of Jesus. Liking the music or the coffee isn't a good reason to be associated with that. 

6.      If you are in any way inclined to give Jesus and the venerable 2,000-year-old religion of Christianity a hearing, I would encourage you to find good Christians, and pastors, and churches, and support them, even if that means leaving the church you’re already at. By good, I do not mean perfect. I mean, rather, that they are obviously trying to follow Jesus in his ethic of unconditional self-sacrificial love for all people. Find a good church and support it. Participate in worship, in discussions about the direction of the church, and in leadership if possible. Support a good church with your time, your talents, and your treasure if you have any. If good churches don’t receive your support, they close, and eventually, all America will be left with will be the heretical and hateful bastardization of Christianity that has already come to dominate far too much of the landscape. 

Most of American Christianity is not Christian. That is an indictment, and a call to repentance. There is no better time than October (the month in which we remember the 16th century Reformation) for us to consider how we might participate in a much-needed reformation of the American church of the 21st century. 

Our Staff
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Dale Hukill
Sherrill Crawford
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Rev. Daniel Skillman - Senior Pastor
danielskillman@stpaulberea.org
 
Corinne Grizzell - Director of Christian Education

children@stpaulberea.org  

 

Dale Hukill - Director of Music Ministry
music@stpaulberea.org


 

Richard Shirey - Assistant Organist

 

 

Sherrill Crawford - Administrative Assistant

officestaff@stpaulberea.org

Dean Firing - Administrative Assistant

officestaff@stpaulberea.org

Lynnette Ozanich - Bookkeeper

treasurer@stpaulberea.org

Pastor Dan Skillman Installation
Pastor Dan Skillman Installation
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Pastor Skillman Installation Service
Pastor Skillman Installation Service
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Pastor Skillman & Bishop Allende
Pastor Skillman & Bishop Allende
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Pastor Skillman Blessing the Bread
Pastor Skillman Blessing the Bread
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DSC08159
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Hand Bell Processional 2018
Hand Bell Processional 2018
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Easter 2018
Easter 2018
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Choir With Brass 2018
Choir With Brass 2018
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Church from pking lot
Church from pking lot
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