New pastor on the block
McLane Stone is the new pastor of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Coeur d'Alene. He is pictured here in the chapel Wednesday.
Pastor McLane Stone of First Presbyterian Church on Wednesday shows the new Neighborhood Closet in the church's basement to help schoolchildren in need. Stone and his family came to Coeur d'Alene in September.
Staff Writer | October 9, 2022 1:08 AM
The new pastor at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Coeur d'Alene gave his first Sunday sermon Sept. 18.
“We have just always felt a draw to communities that are vibrant, active and exciting, and Coeur d’Alene is certainly one of those," McLane Stone said, seated in his office on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
Stone might be new to the area, but his church is anything but. The congregation, founded in 1888, is one of the first in Coeur d'Alene.
Stone came in knowing that First Presbyterian's modus operandi is steeped in love.
"Love first God. Hand in hand with that is to love each other and our community and our neighbors," Stone said. “Jesus is very clear about who our neighbors are — it’s the people God has placed in our time and place, and we want to serve them and serve their needs as best we can. We are committed to doing that in tangible ways, we are committed to serving the disenfranchised and the vulnerable. We believe that Jesus has a special heart for those communities. We want to find ways to serve those people."
Stone earned his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey and his bachelor’s degree in theology from Whitworth University, where he met his wife, Charley. He served at churches in Washington, D.C. and in Lewiston before making the trek to Coeur d'Alene. He and Charley have one daughter and have another baby on the way, due Oct. 20.
"We’re very much looking forward to being a part of this community and all of its diversity, to experience all that downtown the surrounding areas have to offer," Stone said. "We’re excited to raise our kids here."
Used to being asked about his first name, he explained that it's a family moniker. Also, as an avid fly fisherman, he said people often make the connection to "A River Runs through It," a beloved 1992 film with a Presbyterian pastor patriarch, a family with the last name MacLean and a prominent love of fly fishing.
"I can’t walk into a fly shop without that information being found out and that being a big deal," Stone said with a smile.
In continuing the church's legacy of caring for its community, Stone shared that the congregation's Love 1st Neighborhood Ministry has just launched the 1st Pres Downtown Neighborhood Closet to provide clothing and toiletries to school children in need through school counselor referrals.
Politics won't interfere in this mission to serve others. Stone said First Pres is committed to following Jesus.
"Jesus was not partisan," he said. "For that reason, at First Pres, we have people who fall on both sides of the aisle. Jesus was political in the sense that politics impact people, and First Pres Coeur d’Alene is committed to loving people — people in their brokenness, in their diversity, recognizing that life is not always black and white.
"We want to be a place where people can wrestle with difficult questions, listen to one another and do it with compassion, grace and love," he continued. "In the offering of that love and grace and service, we want to be a place where all are welcome."
First Presbyterian Fall Festival Celebration is Oct. 29
First Presbyterian Church, at 521 E. Lakeside Ave., Coeur d'Alene, will host a fall festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 29. Fifth Street will be blocked off from Coeur d'Alene Avenue to Front Street.
The church will give back to the community with a festive day of activities for all to enjoy:
• Animals from Second Chance Animal Rescue for petting and feeding
• Free cider and hot chocolate
• Photo booth with fall backdrop
• Pumpkin wall-hanging craft
• Rock painting booth
• Removable tattoo booth for kids