Sunday, April 10, 2011


On my latest trip to California I was driven to a location near the corner of Euclid and Imperial highway in La Habra. There I was shown what was unmistakably a medium sized strip mall. The Strip mall was like so many others you can find in any city. There was a large supermarket, and what looked like a half-dozen satellite stores; a couple on each side of the large market. With the parking lot it easily took up a large city block.

It was not till I looked at it much more closely that I realized that it was a church. Not just one of the stores, but the entire strip mall. The entire strip mall was one big church.

“That used to be an Alpha Beta” My guide told me. “Now it's all Calvery Chapel” 
“Wow” was all I could come up with.

If any part of replacing a bunch of strip mall tenants with a single church irritates me it is not the church taking over the property part. Why do large chain stores abandon perfectly good buildings to build new ones just a few blocks away? If it is to increase the amount of sales, why don't they just try plowing the new building funds back into their profit structure, and sell their products for a more competitive price? I think the world would be better off without more occupied or abandoned strip malls.

As we walked around the structure I was struck by how much the whole thing looked like a strip mall, and how little it looked like a church.


At one end of the mall, just where the former sign for a satellite business would be, I saw what I had been taken to this former strip mall to see. Above one of the doors was the outline of a dying seagull and the word “Koinonia”.

Poor Seagull

Koinonia is the anglicisation of a Greek word κοινωνία. The word appears 19 times in the Greek New Testament. In the New American Standard Bible it is translated “fellowship” twelve times, “sharing” three times,“participation” two times, and “contribution” twice.

It is also the name of a fundamentalist Christian institution that provides a unique degree structure. I know this because someone gave me one of their degrees.

The Koinonia degrees are presented as medals. Each medal is almost six inches wide, and over a hundred grams in mass. There are three levels “Bronze”, “Silver”, and “Gold”. I have a Bronze medal.

My Koinonia Bronze Medal

I was given the medal by a native English speaker who had some unintelligible words for the type of education the medal represented to him. I could try and remember them, but to make this entry more safe for work I will not.

I was told that since I knew more about the bible than his professors I should have the gold level medal, but that he only had the bronze to give me.

Apparently if you wear the medal at special events you will be granted some type of special access. The gold level provides the best access. All the medals have the same shape and inscriptions, so I thought it might be interesting to get my medal gold plated. However, I don't really think it worth the effort as I don't get invited to those type of events where my medal would afford me special access.

As I was leaving the parking lot the police drove up and circled wide around me in their cruiser.

I wounder what would have happened if I had been wearing my medal?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...