Monday, August 18, 2008

The Door Fellowship Nears 40th Aniversary


The Door Fellowship encourages 'every single person' to enter into the presence of Christ

Williamsport Sun Gazette

From a humble home to a majestic theater, The Door Fellowship at 470 Pine St., in Williamsport, PA, has been worshiping and following the Lord for nearly 40 years.

"We got started in 1969 in a little town called Quiggleville," the Rev. Michael Holcomb said.

As young adults and "hippies" began attending the meeting, led by Holcomb's father, the Rev. Wayne Holcomb, the group began to look toward the city for a larger building.

"Then we came up with the problem of what to call ourselves. It was the hippies who said 'The Door,' " Holcomb said.

Two years later, the group adopted the name The Door Fellowship.

The church rented buildings before buying its first home on George Street in 1974, according to the church's Web site,

How it moved to its current building is the work of the Lord.

"There was a guy that used to live right over here on Bennett Street, and he would walk his dog every day," Holcomb said. In his travels he would walk by the dilapidated Rialto Theater.

"He really felt like the Lord was leading him here. He said, 'I think this is the building,' " Holcomb recalled.

The man eventually convinced Holcomb's father and the church elders to explore the building.

"First of all, it was huge compared to the other building we had then. Plus it stunk. It was dirty, it was filthy," Holcomb said. Mildew had overgrown the upholstery on the seats and holes in the ceiling let in the birds and rain.

The owner of the Quiggleville home where prayer services first were held, also was a church elder and he began praying in the rear of the theater.

"He was praying and he got slain out in the Spirit. He said, 'This is the place. This is what God has for us,'" Holcomb said. That was in 1980.

Four years of intense reconstruction and renovation later, the church began to meet in the former theater, instead of downstairs in the basement.

"We had plumbers and electricians and everybody for the job," Holcomb said.

The women of the church reupholstered more than 800 of the original theater seats, still used to this day.

Holcomb said church members "absolutely" feel more connected to the church, having done the work themselves.

Weekday services

While Sunday morning worship and Tuesday evening prayer and healing services are held at the church, Wednesday evening home meetings are spread throughout the county.

"We divided the congregation up into 36 home meetings," Holcomb said.

"You can get lost in here; it can have an impersonal touch," he said of the church's large and ornate sanctuary.

The home meetings bring together about 15 people.

"It's easier to talk to people, get to know the home leader," he said. "Now you have that personal touch."

People can find counseling from their home leader, mixed in with prayer and worship.

"We don't just pick people out of a hat," Holcomb said of home leaders. "The first criteria off the top is: Are they living a Christian life, which would include, 'Is their family together? Do they have a good reputation with people? Are they hard workers?' It doesn't matter if they've had education. It doesn't matter what their background is."

The majority of home leaders are long-time worshippers at The Door Fellowship.

Wednesday night meetings are where the church "really counts our members," Holcomb said. "Practice over position. We're looking for real faithfulness."

During the Tuesday evening prayer and healing meetings "quite frequently, something will happen," Holcomb said. "Many times as the service builds on Tuesdays, God will give us a word of knowledge."

In a recent service, one worshipper said they saw skin tags and skin conditions would be healed.

"Within a few weeks, people came up and testified," Holcomb said.

He added others have been cured of cancer and deafness.

"It's just amazing what the Lord begins to do," he added.

Even if some never experience a healing, "we just continue to trust in the Lord. The thing of it is, healing is a sign," Holcomb said. "They're not an end unto themselves. Healing points us to the Lord Jesus Christ."

Oil often is used to anoint those in need of healing and prayer.

"A lot of people will request it," Holcomb said.

The church has bottles of myrrh and frankincense scented oils "not because that's any magical oil. That's just what smells pleasant."

Oil does not need to be blessed.

"You're anointing the person and praying," he said.

Sunday worship

Holcomb described Sunday morning worship as "very flexible" because "a number of things can happen."

Lively praise and worship singing includes older and more current Christian music. Preaching and communion the first Sunday of the month are regular staples.

"I would say something that would make us a little different is we have an informal structure, but also we have a very pragmatic emphasis," he said. "In other words, if you become a member of the church, we're going to be more concerned about if you are really living the Christian life, instead of if you're just showing up Sunday morning."

The nondenominational church is based on the Bible as the supreme authority and has roots in the Pentecostal church, Holcomb said. Those roots are where the church's tradition of speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing originate.

Holcomb said that those familiar with more structured services may have misconceptions about The Door Fellowship's services.

"They imagine services with people just going around, sort of chaos. But, actually, those type of services are very rare," he said.

That's exactly why the church ministers and elders sit on the stage in the sanctuary.

"Not because they're kings or gods, but it's simply a statement that there is an order. Things aren't going to get out of whack," Holcomb said.

Emotions can switch quickly through the power of God, he said. "One minute, the decibel can be really high and everybody's praising the Lord and the next minute, there are people on the ground, crying before the Lord."

Holcomb added that a church "with more of an informal edge" puts the responsibility on the person to make the contact with the Lord.

"It's not just the pastor," he said. "Every single person can enter into the presence of the Lord, and we encourage people to do that."

Brothers and

sisters in Christ

Holcomb is known as Brother Mike to those in the church, a tradition found in the biblical book of Acts when Ananias spoke to Paul.

"Actually his name was Saul at that time ... (Ananias) walked in and said, 'Brother Paul.' Now that did something. That let Paul know he was immediately accepted," Holcomb said.

The phrase is used as a term of endearment.

"As soon as we believe or think or just assume that somebody is saved, I'll call them 'brother' or 'sister,' " Holcomb said.

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