A stand-up worship service
Things were a little different at Opportunity Christian Church that Sunday. Smiley face balloons were everywhere, the sermon was delivered by a ventriloquist and the congregation rocked with laughter.
The church’s first celebration of Holy Humor on March 30 was a rousing success. The tradition of mixing laughter with worship isn’t common, but it dates back to St. Augustine, said Pastor Lauri Clark Strait. “It’s actually a very ancient tradition,” she said. “It’s celebrated the first Sunday after Easter. The idea is that on Easter, God played a joke on the Devil by resurrecting Jesus.”
Church member Sherry Smith got the idea to put on the special service after reading a book on holy humor. Office manager Judy Miller knew Michael Waldrip, a local ventriloquist, and invited him to get in on the act.
“I never knew there was a Holy Humor Sunday until they called me,” Waldrip said. He works as a marketing director for a local retirement home, but does about a dozen ventriloquist shows a year with his companion Chester and a Dodo bird named Tilly at elementary schools and churches around the country.
Laughter isn’t just good for people’s health, said Clark Strait, it’s also good for your soul. The church did its normal service, but there were jokes sprinkled throughout. Balloons were plentiful, and Communion was blessed rainbow Goldfish crackers. “Even though it was all goofy, the Gospel was definitely proclaimed,” Clark Strait said.
“It was a lot of fun,” Smith said. “It got a lot of smiles. The whole thing held the children’s attention.”
Waldrip included God and faith in each of his dialogues with his characters. “I think this is a God given talent that he’s given me just to encourage people,” he said. “I just really enjoy watching kids’ faces when I brighten their day. Just to get children to laugh, to get adults to laugh, is worth it all.”
Waldrip closed his performance with a rendition of “Happy Trails,” just like he has since he met Roy Rogers. “At the very end we had people sing along,” he said.
Clark Strait gives the credit for the event to Smith. “Because it comes the Sunday after Easter, there are so many other services that have to be planned first,” she said. “If it hadn’t been for Sherry getting so excited about it, we might not have pulled it off.”
Everyone liked the service so much that it will be back next year. This year the church youth were gone at a retreat and couldn’t participate, but hopefully that will change next year, Clark Strait said. “We’re hoping next year they will take a major part in leading it,” she said.
Clark Strait said she has heard of some churches going as far as having the choir dressed in bathrobes during Holy Humor Sunday services. “We were actually trying to be a little low key,” she said. “You can follow Jesus and still have fun and smile.”
Army Reserve Center
Spokane City Council members have decided to go along with the recommendation of their advisory committee and not a proposal from the Greater Hillyard Business Association for potential conversion of the Mann Army Reserve Center for civilian use.
In a 6-1 vote Monday, the council endorsed a recommendation by their citizen committee to convert the existing office and shop areas to educational uses; turn a vacant piece of land into a gateway for the Hillyard business district; and to allow undeveloped parking areas to be sold for private development.
The offices and shop areas could be turned over to Spokane Public Schools and Community Colleges of Spokane under the recommendation.
Not even three months into his first term in office, Hauser Mayor Don Werst is under fire from unhappy constituents who are criticizing his leadership style as too authoritarian and organizing a recall.
“We’re not a bunch of hysterical wackos,” said Hauser resident Ben Nelson, who is organizing the recall effort. “This guy has been completely off-base since he took office.”
Nelson accuses Werst of improperly firing Tina McCoy, who had a code administration contract with the city and is Nelson’s partner, and of making cruel comments to city employees and council members.
Werst disputes much of the criticism but acknowledged that his desire to make changes at City Hall has upset some residents.
Preparing for Miss USA
Post Falls native Tracey Brown is preparing in Las Vegas for the upcoming Miss USA pageant.
The Whitworth College senior is the reigning Miss Idaho USA. Brown is no stranger to high-level pageants, serving as Miss Idaho in the Miss America pageant in 2006 and as Idaho’s Jr. Miss in 2004.
In Boise, however, Brown would be better known as the young woman who pushed in 2006 for Idaho specialty license plates marking breast cancer awareness with a pink ribbon and the message “Early detection saves lives.”
Brown’s mother, Debbie, survived breast cancer and has been an inspiration to her daughter. She graduated from Post Falls High School in 2004 as salutatorian and is an honor student at Whitworth, where she is studying broadcast journalism.
Brown is also a trained ballet dancer.
The winner of the Miss USA pageant on April 11 will be sent to the Miss Universe pageant later in the year.