By ANNE KONCKI
Pastor Nick Larson feels like the luckiest guy in the world. He gets up every morning and is motivated because he loves his job.
Larson moved to Columbia to take a job at Broadway Christian Church in September 2010. Originally from West Lafayette, Ind., he went to seminary in San Francisco, and he brings his experiences there to his current job. It gave him good perspective, he said, because he encountered people who thought differently than he did.
“I met a lot of folks that I wouldn’t have met if I had gone to Indiana, from different cultures and religions and backgrounds,” Larson said.
At San Francisco Theological Seminary, he attended classes with people who planned to become Catholic priests and people who were Methodists, Anglicans, Episcopalians and Presbyterians. This exposure helped Larson define what he believed and taught him what others believed, he said.
Before Larson entered seminary, he worked in youth ministry at the Federated Church in his hometown. After he graduating, he continued in youth ministry and did work for a Mission Bay community church in San Francisco, staying there for three years.
Larson said Broadway Christian Church found him. After getting call from the search committee at the church to come check it out, he interviewed for them and got the job.
About the same time Larson started, a service called CORE was beginning as part of Broadway Christian. The service is held at 5 p.m. on Sundays at Orr Street Studios, 106 Orr St.
Larson said the services are meant to be more participatory than “traditional” church services. For instance, the rhetorical questions that often get asked during the sermon at regular church services are an open discussion at CORE.
“It’s fantastic, and from my perspective as a pastor it helps me see the breadth and knowledge that is already in the community,” Larson said. “To recognize that we all know things. We all have ways of encountering God.”
He said he loves that a multitude of voices gets represented every Sunday at the services.
One church member who enjoys these services is student Leslie Leipard. At 29, Leipard described herself as creative and likes that she can share her art at the galleries alongside the work of professional artists, as she did at an art show for CORE.
“It’s difficult for me to be comfortable at most churches for some reason,” Leipard said. “I like (the CORE service) and the way they do things.”
Leipard was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19. She said she often has physical pain as a result of a chronic pain condition and going to CORE makes her feel better as a person regardless of how she feels physically.
“At CORE I can talk to people and interact, and it’s always positive and it makes me feel better in my heart,” Leipard said. “There’s not a whole lot that helps my physical pain sometimes. I go to the hospital if I can’t sleep, that’s about it. CORE is very helpful.”
She said Larson has been there for her in some of her struggles and offers to help her out.
The one-on-one interactions with church members are what Larson likes most about his job, he said. He often gets together with members over coffee and listens to their stories. He said he sees this as a chance to look for God in the lives of everyone he meets.
“We’re all on this faith journey together and it’s not something that happens just once,” Larson said. “Faith is something that’s ongoing and ever-growing and changing.
“To see the spirituality in this place deepen over time is truly what I want to see. That’s” — he paused — “my hope.”