Religion

GROWING IN FAITH

BRADENTON — A husband-and-wife team, Jim and Heather Parker, have opened Back to the Word Church, where members say there is “more teaching than preaching.”

The new congregation, which grew out of a weekday Bible study group at a member’s home, has its worship service 5 p.m. Saturdays at 4200 32nd St. W., which is a facility shared by a number of other congregations.

“We chose the name Back to the Word, because we wanted to get back to worshipping God, the way God intended, in ‘spirit and in truth,’” Pastor Jim Parker writes in an introductory letter.

“We do this by teaching from the whole Bible, from Genesis through Revelation and stripping away all the man-made agendas and doctrines,” Parker continues.

Back to the Word is where worshippers “grow in faith not in religion,” he said.

Ursula and Harold Boorsma, who divide their time between Colony Cove in Ellenton and Michigan, say they appreciate the way the whole Bible is taught.

“We will be going back to Michigan soon, and we will really miss this,” said Ursula Boorsma.

Jim Parker said the congregation welcomes anyone from any denomination, and is especially interested in reaching out to anyone who does not have a church membership, or has fallen away from attending regular services.

Back to the Word is also convenient for anyone who wants to attend a Saturday service, while continuing to attend their regular Sunday worship, he said.

The church incorporates elements of the Hebrew tradition, including blowing of the shofar, or ram’s horn, and during Passover recently held a Christian seder.

“I teach from the Hebraic roots of our faith,” he Parker said.

“For instance, I feel that if we do not understand such things as the Jewish wedding customs, we cannot truly understand the analogy of the church being the Bride of Christ. When we study these customs, we almost immediately see how the two go hand-in-hand,” Parker writes.

The service today is titled, “For Three Days and Nights — Where was Jesus and What Did He Do?” an exploration of the time between crucifixion and resurrection.

Membership at Back to the Word is about 25. “You start with a few and you grow from there,” Parker said.

The Parkers are throwing their faith, their talent as musicians and their passion into growing the congregation. “Heather and Jim both play instruments, and Jim has a fantastic voice,” Ursula Boorsma said.

Jim Parker said when possible, he likes to incorporate drama and music into the service to help bring the message to life.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.

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