Monday, April 24, 2006

How to move church pews
A tribute to a little blood, a lot of sweat, and a few tears that will forever be known as... The Day Our Church Moved.

We moved our church to a new location over the weekend. I say that to some people and they think that's an odd thing to do. True, most churches don't just pick up and move. And they especially don't move with a U-haul and a lot of volunteers.

But, we did. Yeah, pretty much the whole church was there. And given that's a total of about 20 people or so, it was a pretty amazing thing.

We moved from a second floor space that has been our home for the past 6 years or so, almost since our birth as a community. Now we live in a new space on a first floor.

Thank the Lord for first floor church!

The pews we own have been a thorn in our side since the day we took them into our possession. They are quite a beast to move. They used to be bright orange. At least now they are pretty and redecorated. But, they are still a beast to move.

I didn't have to move them. Lots of boys did. I just took pictures. I found that to be helpful.

It went something like this:

1. Move the pews out in the hall, one by one.

2. Confirm that yes, the pew is in fact, in the hall.

3. Heave the pew into the narrow, twisty stairwell.

4. Proceed with the pew down the narrow, twisty stairwell.

5. Contort around the corner with the pew, and head out the door in to the light of day.

6. Proceed onto the truck with the pew.

7. Deposit pew.

8. Repeat 7 more times.

Thank goodness for strong boys.

The new room will be great. We are working hard this week to finish setting it up. But, I am sad to leave the old place. It was home.

Plus, I don't like change.

I won't say I've spent more time up in the old room than anyone else. I think our band probably wins that category. But, I think I can say that I have spent more time up there than the average person in our church, and at more odd hours than most people. I've spent A LOT of time in that room, working, doing my staffly duties over the past almost 5 years. Lots of memories. And lots of changes experienced in that room.

I first took on my administrative job when I was unemployed. I would go up to the room in the middle of the day and do such glorious tasks as straighten the room, check the mail, and clean candle wax from all over the floor. Scoff if you will, but I have a lot of fondness for our church's candle wax. I found it strangely therapeutic to scrape the wax.

For awhile, someone who later became Friend A to me would join me up there in the middle of the day, just to scrape wax with me. I never did figure out why she asked if she could come help me with that specific task. But, those are good memories and I'm thankful for those moments.

Later, I moved my staffly durties to evenings after I got a real day job. I would work all day, then a few nights a week I would go up to the church and work. This is when I discovered what a frightening place our room was at night, alone, in the dark. Creepy noises. Dark, narrow hallways. No one around for miles to hear me scream....

It was during those evenings that I was glad that I am a ninja.

But overall, my time spent in the room was memorable in good ways. Once I opened the door to find a bird in the room, flying around. I'm pretty sure he was diving at my head. I let our pastor at the time know that the bird was in there when I left, and I left the bird removal to him.

I remember several nights walking into our room and discovering water gushing out of a ceiling leak here or there. Good times.

I set off the alarm in the office more times than I can count. I punched in that code THOUSANDS of times, but every once in awhile my mind would draw a blank. More good times. That is a frightening sound when you are up there all alone at night. Scared the bahjeezus out of me every time...

I freaked out over too many room rearrangements. I always thought the room was just fine, and then someone would get the idea to move everything around, and I would have to spend the next month or two finding a new comfortable place to sit.

I've watched people come and go from the church, as well as from my life. I've seen relationships begin and end. I've seen other relationships start and get married.

I've seen pastors leave, a new pastor come, and the strength of a community of faith withstand it all. I've seen God at work, no matter what's gone on in that room, or how the room has affected me or the people in and out of it.

I've seen God a lot in that room. Through people, through the gatherings, through the community. I've grown a lot in that room. I've experienced great joy, lots of laughter, genuine love. I've also experienced heartache. I've cared greatly for people I've come to know and love as a result of meeting in that room, and I've been cared for greatly by the people I've come to know in and out of the room. I've met some of the greatest people I've ever known as a result of my church that started and grew in that room.

I stood last night in the room for our last service as we took a moment in the room, empty of furniture and candles, just to be there. One last time. I saw faces of people who weren't there at the beginning. I missed faces of people who weren't there last night to experience the end of that room for us.

The room looked empty, but it didn't feel empty. I still saw God.

I wasn't there for the very first service in what is now our old room. But I'm glad I was there for the last one.

Peace and closure, and hope for what is to come. And thankfulness that we won't have to move those pews again for awhile.

And may we especially never forget the most important thing that we left behind...


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