Timberlake Church opens new campus in Issaquah Highlands
October 4, 2011
By Janelle Wetzstein
At Timberlake Church, no one’s in suits and ties or fancy dresses. It’s a come-as-you-are atmosphere in the Issaquah Highlands.
Regular services began Sept. 11 at Grand Ridge Elementary School and attracted 398 people. The following week, 370 people attended. Timberlake Redmond, the first Timberlake campus, has a congregation of more than 2,000 members. Many travel long distances to attend. By opening an Issaquah campus, the church hopes to reach out locally to the communities of Issaquah, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and North Bend.
Rusty Gerhart, senior associate pastor at Timberlake Redmond and lead pastor of the Issaquah campus, said that the church emphasizes welcoming everyone.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in your life or your walk with God,” he said.
“We want to grow together, but we don’t want the pretense that is often associated with church, where you have to fit a certain mold in order to be there,” he added. “We believe that everyone’s welcome, everyone matters and that everyone’s needed.
“By expanding, we will hopefully be able to get in touch with more of the community.”
Timberlake Issaquah held two preview services. Each had an attendance of about 250 people.
On the Web
Learn more about Timberlake Church at www.timberlakechurch.com.
Regular services will be at 10:15 a.m. Sundays, with children’s programs for kids up through eighth grade.
Brennan Strawn, musical director of Timberlake Issaquah, said that the comfortable attitude of Timberlake Church is one of the reasons for its success. Strawn, who performs in Monarch, a band separate from the church that plays local venues like The Showbox, said he brings his nontraditional music style to his position at Timberlake.
“I think when you come to our church, you feel very welcome,” he said. “You don’t have people with strange smiles shaking your hand and giving you Kool-Aid. It’s very honest. Even for those who aren’t into the whole church thing, you still feel like you are going someplace and having fun.”
Timberlake Issaquah has been reaching out to the local community while preparing for the start of their regular services. Members attended the Issaquah Highlands Community Garage Sale and gave away hot dogs and kettle corn, and they were present at the Highlands Day Street Fair at the new hospital Swedish/Issaquah.
Timberlake Issaquah is currently focused on its Sunday services, but is planning on additional community events despite its busy schedule, Gerhart said.
“We believe in actually being a part of the community,” he said. “We have been in touch with the city of Issaquah to do events at local parks, we are going to be a part of the Highlands Halloween event and the Salmon Days event. We want to support the community and family aspect as much as we can.”
Erik Sansburn, technical director of Timberlake Issaquah, said that having a local highlands church could create a very important support system that has been nonexistent for people in the area.
“There are a lot of young families in and around the highlands, and there is no church nearby,” he said. “From what we’ve heard and seen from people in that community, they are happy to have somewhere they can feel connected to and welcome at.”
Janelle Wetzstein is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.