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  • Elizabeth Whitworth


Epikos Turns Six by Elizabeth Whitworth | Associate Director

Don Lovell was a college baseball All-American at Portland State University and played professional baseball for five years in the Cleveland Indian organization in the 1980s.

Curt Warner was a two-time All-American running back at Penn State University and was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft (#3 pick overall). He was AFC Offensive Player of the Year in his rookie NFL season and went on to play in the Pro Bowl three times.

In 1999, Don Lovell and his wife Alison opened a barber shop in Vancouver, Washington. Today, they have 28 locations, serving 40,000 customers a month. Last year, Don started taking guitar lessons from Steve — worship leader at Epikos Church in Vancouver. Steve has a disability: he is unable to keep from inviting people to his church. So, soon Don and Alison checked out Epikos. They hadn’t been attending church anywhere. Immediately, they were hooked.

“It’s difficult for a church to find the sweet spot that combines a comfortable environment with a serious foundation of scripture. But Epikos does this very well.” Don smiles as he thinks back to when they started to attend last summer. “Each week the message touches a part inside of me and makes me think about the word of God wisely and interestingly.”

This summer, Don and Alison opened up their riverfront property to their Epikos family to celebrate July 4 together. And it seems that he has caught Steve’s syndrome. A few months ago, Don invited his nephew to attend Epikos. Then he invited his neighbor and fellow former pro athlete, Curt Warner.

Curt and his wife Ana have four children: Jonathan (a student at his father’s alma mater), 20-year-old twins Austin and Christian, and daughter Isabella. Austin and Christian are autistic, a reality that has both strengthened Curt’s and Ana’s faith and challenged their church experience. Don knew that his friends had struggled to find a church where they felt fully embraced, and he believed that Epikos could be the right fit for them.

“We’ve been on a journey to find the right church for us,” Curt explains. “When you have children who are autistic, it can be somewhat challenging, because you’re not viewed as a normal, traditional family. It has been hard to feel like we fit in.”

After being away from any church for a while, Curt and his family began to attend Epikos a few months ago. He shared the speaking duties with Pastor Sam McKee on September 13, when Epikos celebrated its sixth anniversary. In front of a crowd of almost 300, he told his story of football and faith, struggle and strength. After the service, he signed autographs and posed for photos with football fans and new friends.

When Pastor Sam introduced Curt, he said, “The most exciting thing for me is that you’re not a guest speaker; you’re part of the Epikos family.” Indeed, the Warner family believe that they have found a church home at Epikos. Their experience thus far has echoed what Curt says is the acceptance of God: “With Christ, once you’re in, you’re in.”

As Curt and Pastor Sam spoke at the anniversary service, a teenager sat with his parents, attending an Epikos service for the first time. Xavier, who plays with Epikos’s flag football life group on Sundays, went in for his routine back-to-school checkup two weeks earlier. Out of the blue, he was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Instead of starting school and football practice that week, Xavier had surgery and started chemo treatments.

Xavier’s friends in the flag football group (many of whom are not connected to God or church other than this group) started to pray for him. When they found out that he’s a fan of Curt Warner, they bought him a Seahawks jersey and had Curt autograph it. Curt presented the jersey to him during the anniversary service. Everyone in the room raised a hand when Pastor Sam asked who would pray for Xavier as he fights this battle. “You’re not alone, Brother! We’ve got your back!”

We are so proud of Epikos Church. Their slogan is “A really good story”. It’s a reference to the Big Story of God, but everyone who calls Epikos home knows that it also refers to the life stories of Xavier, Curt and Ana, Don and Alison, and the scores of others who are finding meaning and hope in this healthy, unselfish, growing church.

Your coworker in Christ,


P.S. You can watch the anniversary message from Pastor Sam and Curt Warner online. Check out Epikos on Facebook to see photos from their anniversary celebration, including Curt Warner and the helicopter candy drop!

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