Maybe it was a gathering of saints, called together for the common worship of a wrathful god, ceaselessly praying between bouts of decrying the evil of Christmas or dancing.
Or maybe a few brave souls answered a notice in the newspaper, curiosity piqued by the announcement of a religion where free-thinking and tolerance were bedrocks.
No matter how it happened, your church was born. A gathering of people—humble, caring, anxious and quirky all at the same time—who covenanted, to be with one another on the journey of life, death and everything in-between—
and so it began. A faithful few. Beautifully imperfect, called to that central task— that human task—of connecting, loving, and serving.
It was just a baby, and yet it was thrust deep into the human condition. Tasked to hold minds and souls, bodies and hearts along the roller derby of disease and birth, infighting and joy, and christmas pageants. Sometimes all of those at the same time.
They gathered to hear the world broken open, for insightful sermons, rejuvenating music, and a community whose fierce devotion to each other's wellbeing rivaled a mama bear's for her cubs.
But it wasn’t always like that of course. There were the trying times—and I don’t just mean Phyllis or Jack, those stubborn but loveably souls who inhabit the netherworld of committee meetings—no, I mean the trying times:
when the church almost spit in half over the war or integration,
or when the mill left the town vacant,
or when the minister crossed that line, and the people couldn’t speak about it for decades.
But somehow you were still here.
still on the town common,
still the church that everyone recognizes,
still the ones that shows up every time you were called on,
still using the communion silver (until you voted to sell it).
New people came, and they changed things. Small things, big things. Things that nobody noticed as it happened, until suddenly it was hard to even recognize anything anymore. That was a hard moment, a tearful moment.
And other things changed too.
The proclamations about God, once heard loud from the pulpit softened:
Wrathful became loving.
Distant became intimate.
Mandatory became optional.
After the war, the nursery and RE classrooms were overflowing. Each baby dedicated reminded the church of the incredible beauty of life and the gift this community, all huddled around baby, would bestow upon this child.
The history of your church is more a story of the determination of love to break forth than it is about of tie-dye, or chalices, sermon discussions or social justice committee meetings.
The history of the church is the history of human enterprise, evolving in its sights and sounds, yet revolving always around its core.
The history of your church is the gift of potential and momentum, of baggage and personality. The history of your church is the launch pad from which you spring—into action or disarray.