The Worship Centre Church

Fowler, California – First time I saw it I said to my friend, “That’s a church? Looks more like a casino or something.” Turns out, it was a casino.

Later I went back for another look. Coming up through expansive parking lot (complete with valet sign), it feels big and bold, gaudy and grandiose. I almost expect it to bounce and jiggle like an over-sized Jello mold. The corners rise above the roof like a medieval castle, and then swoop down whimsically, just before I can take it too seriously.

It’s a pleasant, butter cream yellow – warm, inviting and sweet. There’s no suffering here. It’s a place to celebrate, to dance and sing, complete with palm trees. I imagine the god of this place is a fat, jolly Sultan, eager to dole out blessings.

I’m a sucker for holy ground and sacred spaces; those “thin” places the ancient Celts talked about where the veil between heaven and earth becomes nearly transparent. But this place is “thick.” It’s just too puffy and fluffy. Surrounded as it is by fields and vineyards, it’s more like a carnival that’s breezed into town for the weekend. Can a building be redeemed and made into something new? Does it need to be?

Issue 3

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 3, Summer 2006, Playing House.

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Issue 3, Summer 2006

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