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Foreclosed Church for The Wall Street Journal

by Max Whittaker

Members of "The Family" church listen to worship music at Sunday services in Roseville, Calif., January 16, 2011..CREDIT: Max Whittaker for The Wall Street Journal.FORCHURCH (Max Whittaker/Prime)

fa·nat·ic [fuh-nat-ik] –noun
1. a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.

I’m fascinated with fanatics. The word has negative connotations, but I believe we’re all fanatics about something. There’s something or someone you believe in without reservations and completely uncritically; whether it’s Buddha, exercise, or your dog. However, as the above dictionary.com reference alludes, fanatics are most closely identified with religion and politics – two of my most favorite topics.

When The Wall Street Journal sent me to shoot The Family Church in Roseville, Calif., which recently moved to a strip mall after they had been foreclosed upon, I was intrigued.

Pastor Rich Oliver welcomed me to The Family like a jovial and good-natured Tony Soprano. Smiles and manly embraces abounded as people gathered for coffee before service. Heartfelt, contemporary worship music kicked things off. Teens and soccer moms alike got out of their seats and gravitated to the stage. Some stood in rapt attention, others swayed with the music, while others murmured in tongues. It felt like I was at a sold-out show in a tiny club where everyone knew and loved the band except me.

After the music stopped, the sermon began. Oliver and a guest pastor spoke for quite awhile, but it seemed like most of the congregants had already gotten what they came for. Kids texted instead of listening and some even left to drink coffee and chat in the foyer. That moment – when everyone was sucked into the music and their God, with no thoughts or worries about a lost job or family drama or even the fact that they were worshiping in a closed furniture store – had passed.

The former home of "The Family" church in Orangevale, Calif., January 16, 2011..CREDIT: Max Whittaker for The Wall Street Journal.FORCHURCH (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Ron Clark greets members of "The Family" church as they arrive for Sunday services in Roseville, Calif., January 16, 2011..CREDIT: Max Whittaker for The Wall Street Journal.FORCHURCH (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Senior Pastor Rich Oliver, center, puts his hand on the head of a member of "The Family" church during Sunday services in Roseville, Calif., January 16, 2011..CREDIT: Max Whittaker for The Wall Street Journal.FORCHURCH (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Posted by Max Whittaker on Jan 26th, 2011 in Latest News | No Comments »

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