Laguna Faith gathering aims to be positive community addition

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Laguna Faith members gather for a religious service in a tent at seven7seven. Courtesy of Katya Novak

In May 2020, state officials announced restrictions on houses of worship with over 100 members or met indoors to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. Laguna Beach churches were forced to close their doors.

A close-knit bible study group (that included a professional speaker and also a seminarian) then decided to launch an outdoor church gathering where Christians of all denominations, as well as the “spiritual but not religious,” could gather safely together to hear positive messages, listen to live worship music, and share in-person friendships. 

“We used to call it a ‘watch party’ or ‘faith gathering’ but over the past eight months, we have evolved into a real church community – but nothing like any I’ve seen before,” Laguna Faith co-founder Roger Berney said. “I like to say that we are a one-of-a-kind, new kind of church experience.”

The pop-up aspect of setting up each Sunday typically includes 50 socially-distanced white chairs (socially distanced), music and AV equipment, large screen TVs, Starbucks “travelers,” and home-baked cookies.

“It’s informal and everyone is welcome – you don’t have to be Christian,“ Laguna Faith Elder Katya Novak. “We are a place of spiritual refuge, offering faith, hope, and love to Laguna Beach residents and visitors.”

A typical Sunday at Seven Degrees begins at 11 a.m. with a short welcome message, followed by two songs with five to 15 vocalists and guitarists, and then a streamed message on large screens by one of the nation’s megachurch pastors (Greg Laurie, Dr. David Jeremiah, Andy Stanley are favorites). After that broadcast, there are two more songs and then a closing prayer.

Afterward, attendees typically hang out to talk and about 10 or more go to lunch at Kitchen in the Canyon.

In January, you can find Laguna Faith at Seven Degrees outdoor terrace (next to the Sawdust entrance) every Sunday at 11 a.m. From February onward, Laguna Faith will alternate their pop-up locations between Seven Degrees and Art-A-Fair. For the latest pop-up location, visit LagunaFaith.com or call 949-436-9693.

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