Dr. Jill is one of the best preachers I’ve ever heard. As a minister myself for sixty-five years I feel qualified to evaluate good preaching. Her full name is Dr. Jill Kirchner-Rose.
She is the current Senior Minister of the Redlands UCC-United Church of Christ; and has been there almost two years.
She is especially unique in that she grew up in that church. A native of Redlands, she graduated from Redlands High School in 1987. Following this she attended the University of California at Riverside, with a major in Psychology and Business.
Dr. Jill told me that when she was fifteen years old she told her mother she was going to be a minister. From that time on, every decision she made was with that goal in mind.
Her narration was clear and logical, that was filled with grammatical phrases and pictorial words that seemed poetical. The substance of her sermon sounded like a lawyer’s brief. Introduction, summation and conclusion. The theme was riveting, “God showed up.”
-Dr. Abersold speaking about Dr. Jill Kirchner-Rose’s sermon
Today she is forty-eight (48) years old and married to Karen Rose. They were married in the church in 2010 and legally in 2013. Daniella is their two-year-old daughter.
Her most avid habit is reading. The library in her office is very eclectic. From Bishop John Shelby Spong to Bill O’ Reilly. She is also an avid sportswoman-in remission, temporarily. She is an excellent tennis player and an O. K. golfer, according to her.
She loves poetry and dancing and practices Sufism. While she appreciates humor, she says, “I’m not very humorous.” She is a lover of animals and dogs in particular.
In a nutshell, Dr. Kirchner-Rose would be considered a liberal Christian. She denies the concept of Original Sin; and does not accept the traditional view of eternal punishment. She does believe in an afterlife but, again, has reservations regarding the traditional view of heaven.
Dr. Jill says that a belief in the Virgin Birth is nonessential. As for Jesus being the Son of God, she affirms that all of us are children of God, but He was more aware of it.
Again, she is considered progressive in her theology.
The church of which Dr. Jill is the Senior Pastor was started in 1975. A small group of members from the Redlands Congregational Church decided to affiliate with the United Church of Christ (UCC); which is also Congregational. Their origin is from the Pilgrims of 1620.
The Theological differences are distinct. The original group was started in the 1800’s. While the congregational governing philosophy is basically the same; their theology is not. The older group is decidedly conservative and could be defined as a “fundamentalist” church. The UCC branch is considered much more liberal.
The Redlands UCC defines its beliefs as, “We are a progressive, OPEN and AFFIRMING congregation with a vibrant spirituality.” The Open and Affirming means there is no rejection based on gender, race, sexual preference, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Or LBGT.
The congregation also has a deep commitment to, Social Action. For instance, on Christmas Eve the congregation raised $2,000 plus for the homeless in Aleppo in Syria. And an appreciation of the fine arts.
The main worship service is at 10:30 AM each Sunday. It is located at 168 Bellevue Ave, 3 tenths of a mile south of Barton Road.
Stella and I recently visited the worship service. The sanctuary is modern architecture with a large glass window on the east side with a huge stained glass cross (about 50 feet) in the center.
The pews had been re-arranged with the altar in the middle. The choir was about equally divided between men and women. Most of the congregation was middle-aged. Two had care-dogs with them. The music was excellent and the people were very friendly.
The highlight of the service was Dr. Jill Kirchner-Rose’s sermon. It was outstanding. Her voice is firm and vibrant and her demeanor was warm and pleasant.
Her narration was clear and logical, that was filled with grammatical phrases and pictorial words that seemed poetical.
The substance of her sermon sounded like a lawyer’s brief. Introduction, summation and conclusion. The theme was riveting, “God showed up.” She regaled us with a litany of examples from the Bible, from history and contemporary experiences. God Always Shows Up.
And then came the climactic emphasis. Whatever our needs in 2017, God will always show up. No wonder she is such a good preacher. She graduated from the Yale Seminary and has a doctorate in preaching from the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Will we go back? Undoubtedly yes.
Amen. Selah. So be it.