I am grateful for my beautiful church, in which I feel uplifted and at home. I joined almost eight years ago, when we moved to our current home. I fell in love instantly, with the people and with the space. The church is an amalgamation of three former area churches, and some folks are still struggling with old boundaries, I think. But there are growing pains in all families, aren't there? :) It truly is a wonderful community, and I'm overjoyed to be part of it!
Let me take you on a tour of our building...
The main entrance:
On this end is the Fellowship Hall (below) and the children's space (upper level):
Evidence of St. Patrick's day fun over March break:
The amazing sanctuary, with our incredibly talented organist at the piano, warming up before a Thursday evening Lenten service:
Let's head upstairs...first stop, the nursery:
Who wants to ring the church bells??
There's a window that looks down on the sanctuary below (so the little ones can spy on their parents?)
And now along to the Sunday School space:
Hard to tell from the photos, but there are retractable walls, so the space can be divided into several smaller rooms.
And finally we come to the Youth group room, tucked over in the far corner...having a comfy couch for chilling and chatting, being allowed to paint on the walls...perfect for the teen crowd! Here are some photos of the murals they have created:
And what's a church without a rainbow?
Just realized I have no photos of the chapel, entrance hall, kitchen, fellowship hall...oh well, you'll have to come back for a second photo tour another day!
We celebrated our 15th anniversary last Sunday. And what a lovely, creative service it was. The Maritime Conference United Church Women were gathered at our church over the weekend, so our pews were filled with ever so many visiting faces. We also had the stunning Maritime Conference Heritage Quilt on display.
The service was very contemporary, there was no sermon (sad face), instead we pieced together our own congregational heritage quilt. Various people from the congregation came forward with quilt blocks, passed them to Valerie or Janice who pinned them onto the quilt backing. As each piece was being pinned, the presenter read a few words relevant to that particular story. There were blocks/stories called We are Children, We are Song, We are Pastoral Charge, We are Mission, We are Foundation (?), and so on, representing all the different parts that make up the whole of our Church community. The president of the UCW presented a block as well (We are ??...I forget what it was titled.) I brought forward the last block We are the United Church of Canada (I'm guessing I was chosen for that one because I'm discerning a call to ministry in the UCC, since all the presenters had some connection to their particular block.)
Interspersed with the quilt story were hymns and prayers and readings from Scripture, and also the opening of the Heritage Quilt. (When closed on its rack, it looks like a big old wooden door...then the side pieces are swung open to reveal a most beautiful and colourful creation, resembling arched church windows. It incorporates various images and symbols and the logos of both the UCC and Maritime Conference.) This quilt has been travelling around the Maritimes since its creation and dedication in 2006, and I think to Bermuda as well (which is part of Maritime Conference). As it travels, it is accompanied by a book so each church can record their story of the quilt's visit. The book opens with this:
The Heritage Quilt captures in fabric and stitch the faith story that unfolds inside our church buildings. It was dedicated on May 25, 2006 as part of the celebration of Ministries Service during the Annual Meeting of Maritime Conference using these words: "To the glory of God: Creator, Christ and Spirit, we dedicate this Heritage quilt. May it witness to God's abiding love! Let us celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church, inspiring us in ages past, sustaining us this day and guiding us into the future."
And the pages following contain the history of the quilt's journey thus far. Valerie asked me to write the story of our celebration, and I am honoured to do so. And now back to our Anniversary service...
The music was uplifting and energetic - we opened with It's a Great Church, and closed with A Song Must Rise (for the Spirit to Descend), which is one of my favourites. As the service drew to a close, Valerie spoke a bit more about our journey together as a faith family, while Janice and I pinned on the remaining quilt blocks, ones filled with the signatures of all present that day. (I got pressed into that duty as I was returning to my seat after bringing up my own block...I really never know what I might be asked to do during a service - with or without advance notice!)
After our closing song, we carried on into the fellowship hall to continue celebrating with food. Lots of those finger sandwiches filled with mysterious pink filling (the kind that are often found at baby & wedding showers), and fortunately also egg salad, tuna, and other sandwich choices. And tea and coffee, and cake...of course! Because what is an anniversary party without cake?! Two of the men in the congregation, who were instrumental in the construction of this wonderful building, made the first cut. Apparently one was going to bring his chainsaw for the cake cutting photo, but he decided against it. Too bad, that would have been hilarious! It was a wonderful, joyful, Spirit filled celebration of our congregational family and our wider church community!
I commented to Janice the other day that she and Valerie really need to stop raising the bar so high, with their wonderful sermons and creative services...seriously, notch it back a bit for us poor minister-wannabees who are bringing up the rear! Yikes, I'm not sure I feel at all adequate in the face of those two and their amazing talents. Ok, deep in my heart, I know I have my own amazing talents, and I'm sure some church family out there somewhere will be happy to have me as their minister...at least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!! :)
As always, each Friday I invite you to click over to Diana Strinati Baur's blog and check out the other Gratitude Friday Club blogs...