A Place to call home

My mother and father-in-law have very generously offered to pay for our wedding flowers, and today we went to the florist to make the arrangements.  In all honesty I had no clue what to begin with when it came to flowers, but this florist knows what she is doing.  She listened to my sketchy ideas and numerous "well I like that flower...what's it called?" and turned it into a lovely bunch of ideas. 

On the way to the florist, we passed many things, but one thing caught my attention.  We had driven past a street of shops, but one was shuttered up.  I only passed it briefly, and wouldn't have paid it much heed if the words "Church Centre" hadn't caught my attention.

What a funny place for a church centre to be - right in the middle of shops!  But that's when it occured to me that many churches are having to find new homes.  In fact my own church has been practicing in a former nursery school for many years, although it is still not recognised by the community as a "proper" church.  The building makes a very good church, however, and serves many other purposes now.  Part of the building has been converted into a serviceable cafe, and once the old church crypt became too dangerous, the scout groups began to meet there.

I did not start going to that church properly until after they had moved into the building they are in now, but I did go to some of the sevices in the old church.  The church was a lovely building, with its grand architecture and pretty structure, but I found a lot of the congregation to be somewhat cold.  After the service we joined the congregation for a cup of tea, and were virtually ignored.  At the time it didn't bother me, because there were some kind enough to speak with us.  But when I returned to the church in its new building I was amazed by the change in the congregation.  They were so welcoming and friendly - you would not believe they were the same people.  Although some did join other congregations when the old church was closed, those who stayed seemed to have been transformed by what seemed like misfortune into something so much better.  Over the years I have come to recognise that it is the people who make a church, not a building, which is why I get annoyed by people who say there is no church in the village.

But to my mind our church is alive and well, and anyone who is interested can look here http://www.stpeters-stanley.org.uk/  and make up their own minds

Maybe, upon reflection of my own church's situation, a shop-front church is not so bizarre an idea after all.  I just hope the congregation are happy there, even if it is only for the convenience of the shops.

Ugh!  It has been a stressful and unhappy week, but I have set myself up a Twitter account this week, which will hopefully help me promote my writing work further once I am back on track.

I'll close off by sending my deepest sympathies out to all those who have fallen victim to the horrific earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier this week.  My prayers go out to the families of those still waiting for news of missing loved ones, or those who are mourning the loss of those they have lost, and hope those still missing return to their families safe and sound.

Comments

  1. Ooooh, flowers! How exciting!

    I think you're right about it being an issue for every church. Even churches who make a big point of focussing on the people not the place have to meet somewhere and where can really affect how welcoming it is, not just to other christians but the community as well. shop front of cafe church can shatter a lot of illusions the world has about the church I think.

    Hope that next week is better for you. C.

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  2. Hi Chloe,

    I never thought I could get so excited about flowers, but somehow I did. I can't wait to see them!

    Even other religious houses have issues like that. The indian resteraunt where I officially got engaged is now a pizza takeout and the actual resteraunt is a mosque. I know muslims need a good place to worship, but I wished they'd picked someone else's favourite to change. Our church is a wonderful contemporary congregation, but compared to others it's very traditional. I don't think a modern image will harm the church of england very much. I once saw a Manga bible - who knows what other new ways the church will find to reach out to young christians?

    Thank you for your good wishes Chloe - I hope all is well for you too

    HC XxX

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  3. I have a memory of reading and commenting on this post, but may well have dreamed the latter part. Sorry, HC!
    It's true that a building can certainly affect the way a church operates, and it's clear from what you've said that having a more open, inviting building has transformed the congregation in the same way.
    My father-in-law (to be) has just started a new church in Wixams (http://www.wixamschurch.org.uk/), and has no church building to work with. I think it will be wonderful, though, to see those preconceptions of church shattered and the community spirit of the church growing without walls to constrict.
    Glad to hear you getting excited about flowers :) We've spoken to our flower arrangers too and it's getting exciting! Remind me, when is it you get married?
    Nari X

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  4. Nari, seeing as I have been neglecting my blog hideously over the past month or two, I'd say no apology is necessary.
    Despite the insistence of so many religious leaders, people still see church buildings as a source of their faith. Ignoring the fact that faith comes from inside will only make things worse. I always remember my primary school headmaster once saying that during assembly our hall became a church because we needed it to be. Fifteen years on I'm only just understanding the significance of his words.
    Weddings are exciting and stressful at the same time. We're getting married in March - one day before our tenth anniversary. So much still to do. xx

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