Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Feeling at home

Awhile back (June 2010), I wrote about joining a new church, chosen for its warm and welcoming nature and friendly people.

This past Sunday, my son, Steven, daughter-in-law, Julie, and 4-year-old granddaughter, Ava, joined the same church. They, too, felt welcomed and were eager to be part of a church family. It was a special day for me, sitting proudly beside them.

Church was a big part of my childhood, and our family of eight rarely missed a Sunday.

It must have required quite an orchestration on my mother’s part to get us all dressed up and ready to go. There were dresses, petticoats, and shiny black patent shoes that were reserved for Sundays.

There were five heads of girls’ hair to curl and comb. And on Easter Sunday, we had special Sunday coats and always an Easter bonnet and white gloves. Maybe even a new white straw purse.

We had a drawer in the dining room buffet called the “Sunday School drawer.” All six of our weekly offering envelope boxes were lined up in this drawer.
The same drawer doubled as the “hair drawer” as barrettes and pony tail binders, clips, combs and curlers were kept there as well.

But before the church service began, we attended Sunday School.

Miss Selle taught the second grade class and was my very favorite teacher. Always happy to see our little faces, she made each child feel special. No child was ever shamed in her class for not knowing their memory work, or for being a little too active. She just laughed along with us and enjoyed us, as though we were her own little treasures.

If we actually managed to learn something, or successfully pulled off our Christmas pageant...well, to her, I think that was just a bonus. In her eyes, we were there to be cherished. Sunday schools should be full of teachers like her.

Our church was an old brick structure with exquisite stained glass windows and royal red carpeting. A dark wood altar and pews provided a beautiful and majestic contrast.

The old church basement held many Lutheran pot-lucks with tater-tot hot dishes, brown-n-serve rolls, and jello with marshmallows.
Confirmation Day
May 17, 1959

As church membership expanded, additional space was needed.

So a building next door to the church was purchased to accommodate such activities as Sunday School and confirmation classes. It was known simply as the annex. I attended classes in the annex and was confirmed in the original church.

But eventually, in the 1960s, both the church and the annex were demolished, and a new contemporary structure with concrete slabs was built. But the new edifice looked, to me, more like a modern insurance company building than a church. Thankfully, brick was used on the inside walls and aqua carpeting helped to give it a warm feeling.

No matter the outside appearance of a church. It is the feel of a church that is important, and the missions it undertakes. A warm and welcoming church draws you to it, and you're glad to be there.

When you find such a place, it is a wonderful thing.