Calvary Chapel of San Antonio, Universal City

photo 1-23    Sunday #40 – Calvary Chapel of San Antonio, 2935 Pat Booker Road, Universal City, TX

Why this church?

When I went to a Church of Christ church recently, I reached out to Debra Maffett to let her know that I had included her in my blog on that church. She thanked me, then shared that she had been going to a Calvary Chapel church and sent me a link to one in San Antonio. I had no idea that this group of churches existed. Not sure how they differ from other churches, but I’m off to find out.


I left in plenty of time to make it to the 8:30 a.m. church service, but once on Pat Booker Road, I couldn’t find it. I pulled into a mall area and saw a theatre and some dressed up people getting out of their cars. I stopped someone to ask if this was the location of that church, but was told no. Oddly enough, I’ve wanted to find a church that meets in a movie theatre and today I learned right where one is! That service started at 9:00 a.m., so I set off to give it one more go in finding this church and if I couldn’t find it, I’d head back to the theatre. Off in a distance, I saw a large church with several crosses, so headed in that direction. Once there, the name didn’t jive, so I called the Calvary Chapel number from their website. BINGO! A live person answered the phone.

So let me just say that if any church leadership is reading this blog, do us a favor and man your phone lines on Sunday mornings, especially if you have a church located in a strip center, theatre, or off the beaten path. If I’d not reached that person by phone, I would have wound up at the theatre church this morning.

With the help of the kind person on the phone, I found the church. Funny, you really can’t tell the size of a church from its website. This website was quite extensive, so I thought it would be a stand alone building, but it really meets in a low visibility area. On the other hand, one of the biggest, if not the biggest church in America – Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church has a very simple website. So, lesson learned: Don’t judge a church by its website.

Service Has Begun

I walked into the worship area to a sea of people standing up from blue cushioned chairs. They’d just finished one song and now were in the midst of greeting one another. This greeting time went on way past the time most churches give for it and I credit that to this church being comprised of a bunch of friendly people.

photo 2-23     Several jean and t-shirt clad people came up to me and said hello. Others wearing more formal clothing hugged, talked and strolled around. The majority of the crowd seemed to be in the 24-45 age range, and I noted a mix of races: Anglo, Black, Hispanic, etc.

After the greeting came the announcements. Whoever did this bit was quite funny. Always love when what can be the most boring parts of the service are somehow transformed into something a bit more entertaining. The guy talked about an upcoming Time Change Pancake Breakfast. (That one sounded like fun!) Then after a few more announcements about a local mission project, an offering was mentioned, but he pointed out that we’d have that opportunity to drop something at the back of the church versus having an offering time during the service.

Then we stood for two songs with words displayed on two medium-sized screens that hung from both sides of the stage that centered on a backdrop of stone with a large copper bird of peace mounted on top. As the band played, I recognized one of the songs that has been sung in other non-denominational churches.

The Message

Pastor Ron Arbaugh gave the message from Ephesians Chapter 6. The King James Version of verse 13 and 14 talks about having your loins girded about with truth. Other more modern translations use the word “belt.” The pastor started out by saying how important belts are to our society. First there are tool belts, then championship belts, every day belts and of course, rodeo belts. However, from the scripture reading he focused the translation that says, “So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight round your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate.

I listened to the message, but my mind kept going back to the book that I’d just finished the day before – Sibel Edmonds’ “Classified Woman.” Sibel learned first-hand that standing on and up for truth is not always easy and can have great costs — personally, financially and emotionally. However, Edmonds says that when she became a U.S. citizen, she took an oath to defend the U.S. constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. So, she could not look the other way as an FBI Turkish and Farsi translator when she learned information that put our national security interests at ongoing risk. She stood on the truth, unfortunately discovering that all her battles would soon become losses. In the end, however, she was the one who walked away knowing she had done everything possible to help right the many wrongs being done at the highest of government levels.

In light of everything going on in the Middle East, I think everyone should read that book, if nothing more than to consider how much you would risk for truth. How far might you go to face down a “Goliath” that wields so much power. If your foundation is truth, you may get knocked down, but you’ll have the resolve to stand back up, again and again.

Post Meeting Thoughts

I liked the soft-spoken teaching delivery of the sermon and it seems that this church is grounded on scripture and teaching that scripture. Most everyone carried a well-read Bible with them to church. With my belief in gay rights, I take strong issue with one comment made during the sermon, but what I’ve learned over these 40 weeks now is that I can easily worship alongside others who don’t hold all my same beliefs. I look for where we can agree on subject matter and practice, and let the rest go. We do it every day in politics. Why can’t we do that in religion?

What’s Next?

Hindu! In fact, I’m headed to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir later today with my Muslim friend. How’s that for getting most all the major religious experiences in on one day? Next week I’ll be in Houston for a wedding and only 2.5 miles from Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. Hopefully, I’ll have time to check out that mega of all MEGA churches.


2 comments on “Calvary Chapel of San Antonio, Universal City

  1. Paul says:

    Joel Osteen’s associate pastor, John Gray, often preaches for him. John Gray also comes to my church to guest preach once or twice a year. His style is much different than Osteen’s, though they are in strong agreement theologically. – your cousin in Virginia

    • mhn125 says:

      Good to know, Paul. Always disconcerting to go to a church and find that the lead pastor is not preaching that day. In all cases on this journey, it has worked out, so I expect it to be no different here.

      The Hindu visit was incredibly interesting last night; I’ll get that post up sometime this week.

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