(May 6, 2014) The beautiful building at the corner of South First and Park can definitely hold a good sized crowd. And in the church itself, there is room for all.
“It begins with our motto, Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors,” Montrose United Methodist Church Pastor Steve Reinhard said. “The Methodist Church has more than 11 million members worldwide, and we are known as the church of the open door. People may not come to worship at first—they may find their way in through our potlucks, and our community events—there are 1,000 doors.”
Reinhard believes that music is one of the ways that the doors to faith can be opened. He grew up playing guitar in church and still does, and his wife Tracy teaches music at Northside and Cottonwood elementary schools.
“Music is truly the universal language,” Reinhard said. “Our sermons and prayers may reach people through their minds or their hearts; music touches the heart and soul and body. It teaches us to love God with our heart, soul and strength.”
Under the guidance of MUMC Director of Musical Ministries Kelly Thompson, the Montrose United Methodist Church now includes two choirs and a praise band. A blend of new and traditional music reinforces the theme behind Sunday sermons, Reinhard said.
“I thought the choir at my last church was good,” said Reinhard, who grew up in Glenwood Springs and who has lived abd worked in Durango, Cedaredge and Salt Lake. “But compared to here? I didn’t know how good a choir could be.
“The music drives the message home.”
A series of four concerts before Christmas drew an average of 100 listeners, and this year’s Lenten concerts were also well attended.
“That is going to be a new tradition,” Reinhard said, “another door in.”
The Montrose United Methodist Church recently threw the doors open to the Fifth Grade Music Festival when the Montrose Pavilion proved too expensive.
“Music reaches kids who can’t be reached in other ways,” Reinhard said. “It also opens the mind to math and literacy.”
Even those who are not gifted vocalists can find their own voice—and place– in a church choir, he added.
“Even if you are not a good singer on your own, joining your voice with the people on either side of you lifts you up,” he said.
The essence of a church is the community that it builds, Reinhard explained.
“We are all broken, we all need healing,” he said. “When we are drawn to a family of faith, our lives are interlaced with other lives. I might not have become a pastor if I had not come from a family of faith.
“Our sense of value does not grow in isolation,” he said. “My next sermon series, on the five practices of fruitful churches, starts with the concept of radical hospitality. We can feel so alone, so hopeless, so unnoticed. But there are places that draw us nearer to the love that sustains us. And when we are drawn to a family of faith we are more likely to find our gifts.”
The Montrose United Methodist Church will continue its community outreach efforts with a new web site and with its Facebook presence, both of which are designed to reach parishioners where they live.
Reinhard hopes that by using non-traditional methods to draw the community in, the message of the church itself will radiate outward.
“We worry so much about what others think,” he said. ‘We can be so excited to talk about a new haircut, a restaurant that we loved, a new place to take our dog or our cat.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about what God is, or where we went to be with God,” he said. “People have a higher purpose. A church is about taking risks with our service; Jesus risked everything and died for us.”
Reinhard also believes that the Methodist tradition of welcoming all through its doors reflects a higher love and a higher power, and crosses economic, gender and racial lines.
“Our regulations and bylaws help us function better,” he said. “But we want our doctrine to reflect the love that comes before the law. More and more Methodist pastors are marrying gay couples though the doctrine says not to. After all, is somebody going to change because you tell them to, or because you welcome them in? I love the Methodist Church because of what we are meant to be.
“I have added a third Sunday service with a contemporary edge, and when my sister and her partner celebrated the 20th anniversary of their union, I performed a little renewal of vows for them,” Reinhard said. “Twelve new members joined the church on Easter, one of them a man my own age who was baptized with his partner.
“Love is not what you live on,” he said. “But it is what we live for. We want our doctrine to reflect the love that comes before the law.”
The First United Methodist Church is located at 19 South Park Avenue, and can be reached at 970-249-3716. Sunday services are held at 8:15 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and at 11:15. The early service encompasses a blend of traditional and contemporary styles of worship, the second service is informal, creative and diverse with an emphasis on music, and the third service is formal and traditional. A Taize service takes place on the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. This is a quiet, laity-led service of prayer and meditation. Childcare is available for all services. To learn more, visit the web site at http://www.montroseumc.org/.