New pastor expands services at Oso church

OSO — The community where Pastor Gary Ray lives and works is a change for him and his family.

Ray moved to Oso from the San Francisco Bay area in February to be the new pastor of Oso Community Chapel, located along a rural stretch of Highway 530 between Arlington and Darrington. His wife, Tina, and their two adult children, Ryan and Randi, also made the move.

“It’s a change moving from a city to somewhere like this,” he said. “It’s a little bit slower, definitely a different feel. There’s a peacefulness here that we really appreciate.”

The 110-year-old Baptist church located at 22318 Highway 530 NE consists of one room for church services held at 10 a.m. every Sunday. Downstairs, several rooms are used for meetings and child care. A separate building behind the church serves as a food bank once a month for 37 families.

The church is “truly a community church” Ray said, where he and his family saw needs they could help fulfill.

“My goal is to help the church to have a broader ministry, more than Sunday morning at 10,” he said. “We wanted to have more things happen throughout the week and offer more ways for the community to know what the church is all about.”

Ray said he and his family have experience in developing church programs for different age groups. After deciding to become a pastor in the late 1970s, Ray, 48, started working with youth ministry in 1982. He has served as a pastor of a church since 1995 and was the pastor of Bay Hills Community Church, in Hayward, Calif., when he and his family learned about Oso Community Chapel and the surrounding community.

Pastor Greg Glasgow was the pastor at Oso Community Chapel for seven years before he died in April 2008. A pastor search committee spent almost two years looking for the right person to lead the congregation.

“Originally we were looking for someone local,” Gail Blacker, a member of the pastor search committee said. “Then we ran an ad online and just got tons of responses. We’re really a small country church and we didn’t think most really knew what they would be going to.”

Ray’s demeanor struck a chord with the committee, she said, and he visited the area. He and his family decided they wanted to help the church congregation move forward.

“They needed a fresh start,” Ray said. “It’s been awhile since they’ve had a pastor and they needed a little help.”

Ray started with creating a church Web site, www.osochapel.com, and some ideas to expand church programs. He began a new fellowship time for adults during the week and inquired about offering low-cost or no-cost music lessons, homework help, craft classes and other programs for children out of an old school building near the church.

He recently received permission to use the building and expects different classes to begin by the end of the month.

His son, Ryan, also started leading a worship and fellowship time for youth and college students. The group meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in a barn located about a mile east of the church.

“It’s mostly a time of worship,” he said. “I play guitar and we sing. We have refreshments and sometimes play basketball.”

Music is a big part of his family’s life, Ray said. His wife sings and his daughter, Randi, is a singer and songwriter.

Music has become more of a part of Sunday service at Oso Community Chapel since the Ray family arrived, Blacker said.

“We had a music program but it was pretty tame by today’s standards,” she said. “The entire family sings and plays musical instruments. It was like getting a four for one deal.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491, adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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