Doris Stephens, the wife of our church's unofficial "pastor emeritus" came into the prayer room before the second service yesterday to tell me that Malibu Presbyterian Church had burned to the ground in the recent California fires. Doris' daughter-in-law, Valerie is the sister of Malibu Presbyterian's Pastor, Greg Hughes. Greg is a friend and colleague going back 15 years. I met his wife, Kay 20 years ago at Forest Home. And about 12 years ago I was the speaker for Malibu Pres' family camp. When Malibu was looking for a new Senior Pastor some years back, I had the privilege of being a reference for Greg.
Yesterday in two of our three services we announced the loss of the church and prayed for them. After the service, I sent an email to Greg with my prayers and support. Greg's leadership in this tragedy is unmistakable. As he told the LA Times, “We didn’t lose any members. We only lost a building. We’re going to regroup. We believe God will make something beautiful out of ashes.”
Indeed God will. What some may not know is that Malibu Presbyterian Church has often been in years past the center of relief efforts when fires and floods have hit Malibu. This church is known for being a true Christian community that cares for it's larger community and no doubt they will do far more than simply look after themselves. The Mayor of Los Angeles has already commended Greg and Kay and the church for being the center of support for others.
I commend you also to the blog by the Children's director at Malibu Presbyterian (where I got the picture above), another honest and faithful voice of witness in the middle of tragedy.
Greg, Kay and all of the Malibu Presbyterian Congregation, may the peace of Christ that passes all understanding be with you.
UPDATE: Greg Hughes on Fox News last night when asked what his church is going to do: Well, you know, we're an Easter Faith people, so you know on Friday, it looked like things were bleak for Jesus, but we saw that Jesus rose again. And our church is a resurrection church. We'll gather again. We're going to regroup again...and we believe we'll be stronger as a result of this.
2nd Update. Here is a video link to Greg speaking on CNN, including some pictures of what the church looked like before the fire.