Advent harvest at The Vine Church of Petaluma, California

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  • Doctor of Divinity Pastor Dave relates well with his countryside congregation of Petaluma, once known as the ÒEgg Capitol of the World!Ó Doctor of Divinity Pastor Dave relates well with his countryside congregation of Petaluma, once known as the ÒEgg Capitol of the World!Ó Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Grandmother and granddaughter hold hands as they join in the singing of a Christmas carol played by the Vine Church praise band. Grandmother and granddaughter hold hands as they join in the singing of a Christmas carol played by the Vine Church praise band. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • A church leader listens to the Advent message. Later, as an usher, she will collect the morning offering. A church leader listens to the Advent message. Later, as an usher, she will collect the morning offering. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Pastor Dave delivers his Advent message to the congregation, illustrated as well on a projection screen. Pastor Dave delivers his Advent message to the congregation, illustrated as well on a projection screen. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • The Vine ChurchÕs sanctuary on Sunday is a two-story-high conference hall during the business week. In the front of the churchÕs sanctuary, tall redwoods take the place of traditional stained-glass windows of the chancel The Vine ChurchÕs sanctuary on Sunday is a two-story-high conference hall during the business week. In the front of the churchÕs sanctuary, tall redwoods take the place of traditional stained-glass windows of the chancel Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • A traditional Nativity crche of the Holy Family, The Three Wise Men and Bethlehem shepherd boy welcome members and visitors to The Vine Church of Petaluma, California during the Advent Season. A traditional Nativity crche of the Holy Family, The Three Wise Men and Bethlehem shepherd boy welcome members and visitors to The Vine Church of Petaluma, California during the Advent Season. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • A decorative Christmas wreath graces the wall and a row of potted red poinsettias line the floor of a conference hall in a business park building in northern California. This Sunday, however, the decorations serve as an Advent welcome to worshipers at the independent Òhome grownÓ Vine Church of Petaluma, California. A decorative Christmas wreath graces the wall and a row of potted red poinsettias line the floor of a conference hall in a business park building in northern California. This Sunday, however, the decorations serve as an Advent welcome to worshipers at the independent Òhome grownÓ Vine Church of Petaluma, California. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Cousins work in Advent coloring books in their ÒSunday SchoolÓ during the worship service. Cousins work in Advent coloring books in their ÒSunday SchoolÓ during the worship service. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Coloring in the Holy Family under the Star of Bethlehem is a favorite Advent project. Coloring in the Holy Family under the Star of Bethlehem is a favorite Advent project. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Reflection in a giant circular wall mirror catches the congregation at prayer. Reflection in a giant circular wall mirror catches the congregation at prayer. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Congregation in silent prayer seen even closer in the giant wall mirror. Congregation in silent prayer seen even closer in the giant wall mirror. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Communion is received from the pastor and a church leader during the Advent worship service by an out-of-town visitor. Communion is received from the pastor and a church leader during the Advent worship service by an out-of-town visitor. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • The multi-talented Vine ChurchÕs pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dave Weidlich on guitar leads the churchÕs praise band and congregation in a traditional Christmas carol. The multi-talented Vine ChurchÕs pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dave Weidlich on guitar leads the churchÕs praise band and congregation in a traditional Christmas carol. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • A church leader gives a welcome message from the pulpit for first-time visitors to PetalumaÕs infant Vine Church. A church leader gives a welcome message from the pulpit for first-time visitors to PetalumaÕs infant Vine Church. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Donning Santa Claus hats, grandmother Maria and her visiting granddaughter Brittany, from out of state exhibit true Advent joy. Donning Santa Claus hats, grandmother Maria and her visiting granddaughter Brittany, from out of state exhibit true Advent joy. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Pastor Dave with his daughter Kimmy who serves as Sunday School leader with out-of-town Advent visitors. Pastor Dave with his daughter Kimmy who serves as Sunday School leader with out-of-town Advent visitors. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • A band member and two charming sisters of the congregation share a homemade Mexican treat following their Advent worship service A band member and two charming sisters of the congregation share a homemade Mexican treat following their Advent worship service Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Mother Sue and daughter Aliana join in the ÒSouth of the BorderÓ buffet after the Advent Worship service. Mother Sue and daughter Aliana join in the ÒSouth of the BorderÓ buffet after the Advent Worship service. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Rudy and John, fellow church founders have festive plates of Mexican cuisine to enjoy. Rudy and John, fellow church founders have festive plates of Mexican cuisine to enjoy. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Joyous Advent revelers, John and Jo Anne Richards are founding members of the Vine Church. Joyous Advent revelers, John and Jo Anne Richards are founding members of the Vine Church. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • Members of the Vine ChurchÕs Praise Band relax following the service. Young sisters of one member join the Òphoto opÓ as well. Members of the Vine ChurchÕs Praise Band relax following the service. Young sisters of one member join the Òphoto opÓ as well. Photo by: Dave Bartruff

PETALUMA, Calif., December 8, 2012 – Planted three years ago 30 miles north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Vine Church of Petaluma is now bearing fruit in its endeavor for a bountiful harvest of souls especially during this season of Advent, culminating on Christmas Day to commemorate the birth of the Christ Child Jesus, Son of God, Savior of the World.

For Christians, the Advent season also serves as a reminder of the original time of waiting for the birth of the Messiah by God’s people during the times of the Hebrew Scriptures.  For Christians today, Advent is also time of longing and waiting for the return of Christ and the coming of salvation, justice and peace on earth.

The Vine Church of Petaluma itself was also planted at an Advent worship service held in the Advent season of 2011.

Today it has grown and holds its Sunday services in a conference hall in a beautifully landscaped business park graced with gracious lawns and towering stands of California’s own famed Redwoods.

The view for the congregation seated in fold up chairs facing towards the pulpit in its Sunday sanctuary is the awesome sight of giant redwoods stretching from floor to ceiling with some branches even caressing the glass panes 

The infant church is pastored by Dave Weidlich, a ten-year resident of Petaluma and an ordained pastor having served Presbyterian churches in Sacramento, Portland and Petaluma. He is a single father of two teenaged children.     

And like many church-planters, he is a bi-vocational pastor. In addition to serving as the Vine’s part-time pastor, he owns and operates a carpet care business during the workweek.

Pastor Weidlich’s congregation is a delightful mix of Petaluma’s diverse population of Anglo and Hispanic populations, young and old alike.

Music here is alive and in the hands of a praise band of young musicians for traditional hymns as well as contemporary praise songs during the Sunday worship services. Pastor Dave with his guitar and harmonica is also part of the musical mix.

Questioned for the need of a new church in Petaluma and Sonoma County, which is one of the least religious regions in the United States, The Vine Church’s founding pastor provides the answers: “We are constantly pressed by bad news of unemployment, political conflict and threats of war. Many of us have been hit personally with financial setbacks, health crises and relational stress. These events awaken the need for spiritual connections with others.”

He concludes, “We need the assurance that there is a guiding force working for our good. We want to focus on connecting with God and lessen the distractions that often seep into churches such as denominational politics, maintaining buildings, filling committee positions and raising funds. We want to bring people together who hunger for God - helping them find the love of God, and then to live in loving ways.”

In that serving tradition, The Vine Church of Petaluma aspires to serve the spiritual needs not only of its members and community, but regions beyond as well. The church offers a safe place to explore ultimate questions, connect with God, form new friendships, and experience spiritual healing.

The Vine designs its services for all who seek God, but especially for those who are hurting and seeking answers to difficult questions as they face difficulties of health, joblessness, severed relationships and other transitions. A DivorceCare group meets Monday nights and is a critical help to those who are grieving the loss of a spouse to separation or divorce. The holidays are especially difficult for those who are newly separated or divorced, Pastor Dave concludes.

At one time Petaluma was the “Egg Capitol of the World” and provided virtually all the eggs and other dairy products for the city of San Francisco. The San Francisco earthquake of 1908 wreaked destruction to the landmark city but bypassed Petaluma.

Its downtown is still graced with classic century-old architecture and adjoining residential areas contain classic Edwardian and Tudor mansions.   

Earlier Petalumans were instrumental in helping with rescue efforts to put San Francisco back on its feet a century ago.  Today its infant Vine Church is reaping a harvest of souls during this Advent season for the Christ of Christmas.

More information, visit: www.thevinepetaluma.org


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Dave Bartruff

California-based Dave Bartruff is an award-winning photojournalist who has traveled to more than ninety countries.

Column Description: “Faraway places with strange-sounding names” is my middle name.  I’d like to introduce myself to you as often as I can.

 

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