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.

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One Response to “Timberlake Church opens new campus in Issaquah Highlands”

  1. Matt on November 8th, 2011 6:21 pm

    A relevant letter to the editor in response to the above article:
    http://www.issaquahpress.com/2011/11/01/to-the-editor-140/

    “Timberlake Church misrepresented quality of community already present”

    An article about Timberlake Church contained some inaccuracies. Erik Sansburn, an employee of that church, “said that having a local highlands church could create a very important support system that has been nonexistent for people in the area.” He claimed that “there is no church nearby” and that families are now “happy to have somewhere they can feel connected to and welcome.”

    So, allegedly, highlands residents have never had a support system and never felt welcomed or connected until Timberlake appeared, setting up shop in our public school.

    I’ve lived in the Issaquah Highlands for 11 years. It’s always been a very friendly and supportive community. Our urban village facilitates communication and interaction among neighbors. Step outside and you’ll soon chat with friends or meet new ones. We have Highlands Day, social clubs at our community center, a soccer league, block parties and a discussion forum. We have a wonderful PTA and fun Girl Scout troops. Halloween is packed with little goblins and princesses. So we’ve been doing just fine, long before Timberlake drove from Redmond to convert us all.

    Sansburn is under the mistaken impression that a community isn’t a true community until a church moves in (with the obligatory coffee, inflatables and cool music). Well, we already have coffee, inflatables just up the road and plenty of live music. Many options in downtown Issaquah, too.

    Timberlake can’t even pretend to provide anything unique theologically. Sansburn’s claim that there are no nearby churches is nonsense. We’ve got churches up the kazoo in Issaquah, including one that already holds services inside the Issaquah Highlands and a megachurch within a five-minute drive.

    And does Timberlake really need to insult other churches? Another employee, Brennan Strawn, asserted that one of their selling points is that Timberlake — apparently unlike existing Issaquah churches — doesn’t have “strange smiles” or “give you Kool-Aid,” a reference to the Jonestown mass suicide. Wow, I understand healthy competition, but that’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?

    Welcome to Issaquah, Timberlake. Next time you expand operations, don’t stick your foot in your mouth. Doesn’t help the proselytizing goal.

    Matthew Barry
    Issaquah Highlands

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