Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Little Church in the Vale Celebrating Arrival of New Pastor
January 5, 2018 by Gwen Cooper | No Comments

“As Christians, we have an image problem that we need to overcome." – Andrew Shanks

Despite the recent bitterly cold temperatures, Andrew Shanks, his wife Laura and their four young children, ages 2 to 9, are finding a genuinely warm reception from the community.

Shanks, who began his ministry at The Little Church in the Vale, located in the Village of Gates Mills, on Oct. 1, recently moved to Chester Township from southern Virginia.

“In the south, people are quick to be polite with their greetings, but slow to invite you into their homes,” Shanks said. “Here, the opposite is true. People may not automatically wave to you, but they are easier to befriend and actually get to know. I think hospitality is more genuine here.”

According to Shanks, another difference between LCV and his former post as pastor for a small southern church for nine years is in education.

Shanks has a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a doctorate degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. He also has published a book, “Echoes of the Messiah.”

“People are more widely-read here and have a higher-level of education,” Shanks explained. “We were in a more economically depressed area, where most did not attend college, and those who left for college did not return.”

The result is a more diverse congregation with livelier discussions here, he said.

Shanks’ background is Southern-Baptist, but he is quick to point out the LCV is a Christian-based, non-denominational church, open to all who are interested in a focus on the Bible.

The church has a long history of serving congregations since 1890, first as a Friends Fellowship and, in 1919, as Wilson Mills Community Church with a Methodist pastor.

Since 1935, LCV has had just six pastors. Bob Sandham recently retired from the post, but is continuing his involvement on the transition team, Shanks explained.

“We work hard to welcome people of all backgrounds,” Shanks said. “We are looking to grow our congregation and hope to increase our involvement in the community. It’s harder to draw new people in than it was 50 years ago when the church was the center of community life. We have to find a way to be more meaningful in people’s lives.”

Shanks agreed that with the current national political climate, the words “conservative” and “evangelical” have taken on new meanings that may not be welcoming to everyone.

“It’s a strange new world,” he said. “As Christians, we have an image problem that we need to overcome. Traditional Christian values have become more marginalized. Our values are not hateful and not racist. What unites us is not our political stance, but our love of Jesus and our belief in God.”

Shanks described his approach as taking short passages from the Bible and focusing his Sunday morning messages on those.

Over the next eight weeks, he will draw from the first three chapters in Revelations and the letters to the seven churches. His plans after that is to study the various names for God found in the Bible.

Shanks gives as examples, “Yahweh is translated as he who heals us, and Jehovah is translated as he who provides for us. In this view, God is known in the terms of what he does for us in our lives.”

Curious?

All are invited to attend Sunday services 10:45 a.m. at The Little Church in the Vale, 610 Chagrin River Road, at the intersection of Wilson Mills and Brigham roads.

Information is also posted on the church website, www.little.church.

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