Traditional Congregation Grows in California

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Christ Church of Davis holds a potluck once a month immediately following their 4 p.m. Sunday service. There are no ham buns at the potluck (the church meets at a local synagogue), but otherwise things are quite old-fashioned and time-honored.

“Our church bypassed hip and went straight to old school,” said Erik Dirksen, pastor of the Home Missions-supported church plant. “There’s lots of soup and people knitting.”

Calling the three-year-old plant “a ridiculously traditional Christian Reformed church,” Dirksen says his 100 parishioners nonetheless have little to no previous exposure to the Reformed church tradition.

“We have a lot of young parents in their mid- to late-30s, graduate students, and young singles,” he said.

After graduating from Calvin Theological Seminary, Dirksen and his family were flown to the Sacramento area to explore the idea of planting a church in uber-educated Davis. “I had no desire to go to California,” the Iowa native said. “But then we fell for Davis in 90 minutes.”

After moving in 2008, Dirksen completed a pastoral internship in Sacramento while spending his first couple of years in the area getting to know his Davis neighbors. “I would have coffee with anyone who would have coffee with me,” he said.

In 2010, 10 adults and 14 kids came to the Dirksens’ first backyard meeting, and Christ Church of Davis was born. Since December 2010, the church has met in a synagogue for its late-afternoon liturgical worship services. The church is shaped and formed around three core values: worship, hospitality, and mission.

Despite its reputation as a cynical, liberal place, “Davis is a spiritually curious town,” Dirksen said. “But the mentality is ‘Church is fine for you but not for me.’ We want to be a church that loves this city and invests in it over the long haul.”

About the Author

Lorilee Craker, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., in a 1924 house full of teenagers, pets, exchange students, and houseplants. The author of 15 books, including Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me, she is the Mixed Media editor of The Banner. Find her at or on Instagram @thebooksellersdaughter.

See comments (1)


Hmmmm.  Lesson to be learned here by the Task Force?

I've long thought that the higher the Dutch density in an particular place, the greater the sentiment against anything that smacks of "traditional CRC."  This is unfortunate.  Every tradition, church or otherwise, has strengths and weaknesses.  One of our (CRC) weaknesses, again increasing where the Dutch density is higher, is the tendency to be self-loathing in a wholesale way about our own traditions.

I lived half my life in a high-density CRC place, the other in a place best characterized as Philistia.  I've always thought "traditional CRC culture" had problems, but who doesn't.  On the whole, "traditional CRC culture" was relatively strong and particularly full of salt.  Those who want to get rid of it (who are, ironically, Dutch and CRC) seem remarkably unable to see the good in their own home town.