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"'Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers,'" said Pastor Doug Baker. Baker quoted America's first Supreme Court justice, John Jay. Baker's quote was in response to the nomination process of chief justice nominee John G. Roberts Jr., a Catholic. "The Ten Commandments are what our founding fathers used to build our country. Our system doesn't work if we are a people without moral standards that God approves." Baker said he believes our country has drifted from an adherence to God's moral code. "Just look at the looting after Katrina. I'm not talking about the people who took for survival, but people who stole for personal gain. This speaks a lot about the heart of the people. Our nation needs to evaluate where our heart is at. If you look at the history of mankind, Rome, the Greeks, and all other empires ceased to exist when they began to fall into perversion and corruption." Pastor Baker believes this is where America could go to, if things aren't changed. Baker suggested people listen to a sermon he gave on July 4, where he presented quotes from America's founding fathers and their allegiance to God. "Ultimately, though, our [church's] emphasis is on moral issues, not political influence." Faith Community Church by the Sea's early service begins at 8:45 a.m. and is called a "mini-service." The 45-minute service is primarily for people who serve in children's ministry and is shorter than the one-and-a-quarter-hour main service. Service began with worship. A CD of worship songs was played through the sound system with three singers in accompaniment. "Normally, we have a pianist, drummer, bass player, and guitarist along with the vocalists. Our worship is contemporary style, but we always include at least one hymn for the older people," said Jill Harp, a singer on the worship team. "But the worship leader was out of town because of a death in the family."

Pastor Doug Baker's sermon series, "Building God's People & Projects," was based on Nehemiah. The Old Testament book of Nehemiah describes the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. The Jews return to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. Baker's sermon correlated with his church's five-phase, 20-year plan to build a multimillion-dollar church campus. Baker told the congregation, "To build God's walls, we must weep over mankind's ruin." Baker said that their own efforts to build a church will be in vain if the church doesn't ache over the condition of the people around them. "How is God preparing you to build His people and projects?" asked Baker as he concluded his message.

Sue Winans, the church administrator, said the church used to have over 200 congregants until they went through a church split. "David Slotje was the senior pastor at the time, but he left. When [Slotje] left, the church dropped to about 60 people." Today, the church has grown back to 150 people. "We are planning on seeing growth over the next several years." Winans said they plan to experience growth as a result of efforts to reach out to the community around them and provide programs to "build up families spiritually."

"We ask the question to leaders in the area, 'What do young families need?'" said Pastor Baker. "I've sat down with other leaders, such as the YMCA leader and others, and they say families are concerned about their kids, about crime, and their ability to parent. This is where our church can have an opportunity to serve people. To let them know God loves them."

Faith Community's five-phase, 20-year plan will cost millions; the plan includes building a church campus. I asked Pastor Baker how he reconciles the needs of the church worldwide with the cost of building a campus. "Paul tells the early church in the New Testament not to depend on their riches but to depend on God," replied Baker. "God doesn't call everyone to poverty. We do need to understand that we don't own our buildings. God does. We can't depend on it, because it is just temporary. We urge our people to be generous and give help to other ministries worldwide." Pastor Baker said their church supports missionaries in India, where they have helped plant new churches.

The church has a gala planned to raise part of the $800,000 to pay off eight acres of land. "Patti Page will be performing a private concert for us. She's sold more records than any other woman in history. You may know her from songs such as 'How Much is that Doggie in the Window.'"

I asked Baker what happens to a person after he dies. "God offers each of us an opportunity to enjoy heaven. We all have a choice on where we will spend our eternity. On the basis of the choice we make, we will either go to heaven or hell," replied Pastor Baker. "God originally prepared hell for Satan and the demons but it is because of mankind's turn from God that people are left with this choice."

Faith Community Church by the Sea

680 Normandy Road, Encinitas




Denomination: nondenominational

Founded locally: March 1996

Senior pastor: Doug Baker

Congregation size: 150

Staff size: 5

Sunday school enrollment: 30

Annual budget: $380,000

Weekly giving: $6000--$8000

Singles program: no

Dress: casual to business casual

Diversity: white

Sunday worship: 8:45 a.m., 10:00 a.m.

Length of reviewed service: 45 minutes

Website: faithcommunity.ws/default.asp

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