It looks more like a campground or a park, but hidden behind the trees in Latah Valley is a new church.
Latah Valley Presbyterian Church, 202 E. Meadow Lane Road, has been holding worship services in its new location since Easter. The first services at the new location were held under a large tent. Before the new location was secured, services were held at Moran Prairie Elementary school on the South Hill.
“Starting a new church is a real adventure,” said Ben Nielson, a member of Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church and the architect for the new church.
Hamblen Park, Latah’s parent church, and the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, have been supporting the new church efforts and hired the church’s new pastor, Scott Kinder-Pyle.
Kinder-Pyle and his wife, Sheryl Kinder-Pyle, a parish associate, lived in the area 20 years ago and left to build a new church in Pennsylvania. They were at Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Limerick, Pa., from 1996 to 2006.
“We’re not the gurus of church planning, but we’ve done it before,” Scott Kinder-Pyle said.
The church buildings are sprouting up next to what used to be a home. The house now holds church offices and meeting rooms, and the Presbytery built a place of worship on the land called the Pine House.
Kinder-Pyle said he wants to create a place where people can talk about their faith, rather than a place where he lectures them about what to think. In the Pine House, several worship stations allow members to express their feelings about the topic of conversation creatively through art or sculpture. The theme Kinder-Pyle uses is that of a threshold – the members of the church are not positioned inside the church, but are ready to cross the threshold and move about in the community.
“We don’t want to just be another franchise of North American Christianity,” he said.
The church also includes a community garden, which members planted in the spring to represent the new church.
“We’re going to grow, just like these seeds,” he said. The church has found a couple of families through World Relief to come and work in the garden and take home the produce.
Kinder-Pyle estimates there are about 50 or 60 regular worshippers at the new church, which isn’t officially a congregation yet, since the church will be supported through the Presbytery until it can become fiscally independent.
Nicole Lewis is a worship leader who also acts as the church’s music director. She said the four- to seven-member band often plays old hymns with a contemporary style.
“The music team is incredible,” Kinder-Pyle said.
The Kinder-Pyles met in the late 1980s when they were both attending college. They have two sons, Ian and Philip, who attend Ferris High School.
The family dog, Pearl, also visits the church, and the Kinder-Pyles hope people feel comfortable walking their dogs on the 16 acres of church land. While the land is not officially designated as a park, visitors are always welcome to visit.
The church will hold a welcome worship service Sunday at 10 a.m. Sheryl Kinder-Pyle said the church has sent out 3,000 invitations for the service which will include special music and refreshments.
Scott Kinder-Pyle hopes to start conversations about faith and said he is looking forward to hearing other opinions about Christianity within the context of worship.
“People can just ask questions or say, ‘I’m not sure I agree with this,’ ” he said. “I’m not afraid of being challenged or questioned.”