Saturday, September 22, 2012

Churches and Their Buildings

I realize that I have gotten behind on the blogging.  Church has been very busy lately, but in a good way.  Attendance is up.  There is excitment in the air.  Things are going well.  However, my attention has been drawn in a variety of different directions as we get our various projects and programs back into full swing.

On project that is on our minds these days is our Capital Campaign.  We have done a great deal of  necessary work on our three buildings.  Now it is time to pay for it and I am trying to figure out something to say that will encapsulate the importance of our building to our mission while also reminding folks that the buildings, themselves, don't actually constitute the congregation.  That is, they are here to help us in our mission.  What follows is the newsletter column from this week that addreses some of the same issues...

We have been talking a great deal about community in church lately. This is not surprising. We are back from the summer. We are renewing our connections with each other and with the church. It is a good time to celebrate these connections as we prepare for the holiday season just around the corner. This fall we will be expanding this discussion of community to include our neighborhoods, our towns, and the world in general. After all, houses of worship stand as the symbolic centers of many communities. They provide support and service not just to their own members but to others as well.

The primary focus of most healthy congregations is the people that make up that congregation. However, this week we will be focusing on the part our buildings themselves play in our relationship to the general community. While they have obvious meaning for us, they also have a symbolic importance to the many people who drive by them. What they stand for is different for each individual stuck at the traffic light right outside our doors. For some, the church is just a pretty building. For others, it brings up memories - good and bad - about their own relationship with religion. For still others it is where they have been for weddings, funerals, Christmas Eve and Easter morning. They might have attended a service of the Natick Praying Indians. Perhaps they have worshiped with us on a regular Sunday. Maybe they have been to the Fall Fair or their Girl Scout troop has met in Memorial Hall. They might have received assistance or attended a meeting. They may even have received vegetables from the garden.

The point is, the church, the hall and the parsonage have meaning within the larger community as well as having meaning for us. As we prepare to launch our capital campaign to help pay for the work to maintain these old buildings, it may be a good time to think about what they mean both to us and to more casual observers.
Yours in Faith,

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