After many months of detailed planning, meeting neighbors and community leaders, hosting preview activities, and distributing flyers, all the anticipation served merely as a bygone prelude to the big day.  On Sunday, August 7, 2011, Eastside Church celebrated the official launch of its weekly worship services in its Oakhurst Village space.

Following a pre-service fellowship time that included coffee and bagels, those in attendance filled the sanctuary to capacity and then some; extra seating had to be brought in to accommodate the overflow crowd.  The church’s musicians kicked things off with historic Christian hymns put to new instrumentation alongside new sacred compositions, bringing the packed congregation to its feet for an enlivened time of worshipping God.  The service also included time for meditation, corporate prayer, scripture readings as well as Holy Communion – all of which will be standard offerings at each worship gathering.

For his inaugural sermon, Pastor Timothy Lloyd taught on the “Rhythms of Divinity,” examining the ways believers might better understand how the patterns of their lives can be made to be in tune with the nature of God.  The sermon kicked of an eight-week message series entitled “Rhythms & Rituals,” which will explore ways the Christian tradition challenges contemporary believers and semi-believers alike “to create more healthy, fulfilling and sustainable patterns of living” in their harried weekly routines.

After the service, a buffet lunch hosted by Oak Grove Market was served in the church’s lobby, inviting worshippers of all ages to stay for an extended fellowship time.

Lloyd said that a large contingent of youth from Decatur’s Oak Grove United Methodist Church, where he served prior to being appointed planter of Eastside Church, attended the launch service.  Based on early reviews of guest cards filled out by worshippers, Lloyd estimated that much of the remaining crowd consisted of an even distribution of people discovering Eastside Church as a result of word-of-mouth, thousands of flyers that were hand-delivered to Decatur residents by a small army of volunteers, and the magic of social media including Facebook.

Lloyd and his team of worship leaders are already looking forward to the remainder of the “Rhythms & Rituals” series and beyond.  A variety of projects in sync with the “green” sensibility of Oakhurst – including collaborations with the East Lake Farmers Market, Oakhurst Community Garden, and a food co-op benefiting those in need – have been envisioned.  Launching small groups, youth ministry, mission work, and reaching out to those who have felt marginalized by the Christian Church are also primary on Eastside Church’s agenda.

By Van Gower