The Restoration Church at 788 Smith Road on Camano Island is an offshoot of the Oso Community Chapel.
The church is Baptist-affiliated and part of the Northwest Baptist Convention.
The Rev. Gary Ray aims to teach the Scripture in a way that is understandable and relevant, but not superficial, he said. There is a strong emphasis on family programming and activities for all age groups.
The church is meant to be a support center for the entire community, not just provide a Sunday service, Ray said.
“There is an unusual sense of excitement and energy,” he said. “More than 50 are regularly joining in and more are coming each week.”
A number of events at the new church were canceled or delayed while Ray worked closely with those who lost loved ones in the March 22 Oso mudslide.
Other churches stepped in to help get things going. Ray is now at the new church full time.
“Little by little, we're trying to get the word out and meet some new people,” he said.
Several projects still are under way, including fields for soccer and baseball. A family-friendly library of books and movies is set to open in September. A fall festival and craft show is planned for November.
Barb Towse, 49, of Camano Island, and her daughter attended the first Sunday service on Easter. They were looking for a new church.
Towse recently was facing a tough decision in her life, and Ray offered encouragement, she said. He knew just the right Bible passage to guide her through.
“He's really dedicated,” she said. “He's doing a lot for our community here.”
Parishioner Jim Dallman, 71, lives in Arlington but grew up on Camano Island. Going to the island still feels like returning home, he said.
For the first two months after Restoration Church got started, he and his wife, Sandy, attended Sunday services there and in Oso to make for a smooth transition.
“So far I like it because the pastor speaks the truth, and I kind of know what the truth is, because I've been studying it for a long time,” Dallman said.
The folks at Restoration are genuine, and everyone gets along, he said.
“God and salvation is the centerpiece of all of us, and everyone agrees to that centerpiece,” he said. “It's just a good family setting.”
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, call 360-862-3550, email CamanoChurch@gmail.com or go to RestorationChurchCamano.com.
Sunday services are at 10:30 a.m. Bible study is held at 9:30 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Tuesdays.
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