Most people around here (at least my family and coworkers) know that on Sunday, we move into our new sanctuary at church. It's taken about 6 months to be built, and I am so ready to get in that sucker!!
Nine years ago, our church was started. I know they split from another church in the area but no one really discusses what happened, which is fine with me. They first met in one of our member's tool sheds behind his house. There were about 15 people at that first meeting. Within a few weeks, they found a building to rent called the Juniper Grange building. I was fortunate enough to be able to come to the church while they were in this building. Well, "fortunate" might be too strong of a word. There were about 30 people at this time. I don't remember this building having a bathroom or heating or a/c. It's a one-room building used for things like hunting club meetings or other community meetings like that. You had to be careful during the service because the rats were a bit of distraction. Our preacher had to be a really good preacher to keep your attention away from them! During the time we were in the Grange building our church grew to about 60 people or so, and in 2002 the church bought 8 acres of land in order to build our first building. This building consisted of a sanctuary, bathrooms, a kitchen, and a couple of classrooms.
Stephen and I got married in this church. We had to have our rehearsal dinner in another church, and our reception after the wedding outside because our church didn't have a fellowship hall. When we have dinners at church, we eat in the hallway and classrooms. Baby showers are held in the hallway. Bible studies are held in the hallway. In fact, now that I think about it, maybe this is the reason our church family is so close? :)
Our church seats 115 people... or at least, that's the fire code. About the past two months, we have averaged 140 people (in our Sunday morning service). What that means is that we have become really close, literally; we have had to pull chairs out of classrooms and line the aisles with them (if you are a fire inspector, you can just ignore that whole last part), and the part of the service where we shake hands and greet each other has become really congested.
We've never had pews. We had chairs that were comfortable enough, but now we have real pews! We got them engraved with three crosses and they're really beautiful. Now, instead of seating 115 people we can seat 290. We've never had a baptistry. For nine years we have baptized people in our preacher's mom's pool in her backyard. But hey, you do what you have to do! Now we have a beautiful baptistry behind our pulpit. We've never had a sound system. We have a CD/tape player that we've used for years that did the job, but thank you GOD we have a real sound system now!! And microphones in the choir loft! We've never had a fellowship hall. Now we have a place to EAT! And have lock-ins! And run around screaming like wild banshees! We have never had a paved parking lot. We park on mud/gravel/grass and the ladies who wear high heels to church (no, not me) wobble inside. Two weeks ago, our builder, Mark Stewart, donated all the supplies and labor for us to get our entire parking lot paved. Amazing!!
Last Sunday night we had a prayer service. We all circled the inside of the church holding hands and prayed. Then every person there went to a place of their choosing, and just prayed for the church, each aspect of the church, the members, the visitors, inspections, our church school, finances, etc. We prayed for at least 25 minutes but it didn't seem that long. There is so much to pray for, and praise for, that I was even able to ignore the fact that my legs had fallen asleep because of the position I was in.
Sunday is our first service in our new sanctuary. I am so excited about what God is doing in our church, and I am just so grateful that Stephen and I found our way there. Honestly, if we had never gone to that church, I (and Stephen) may not have ever gotten saved. I can't imagine how our lives would be now, and I really don't want to imagine that. Sunday night will be our first real baptism service. We've been "saving up" people through the winter so we'll have about 25 getting baptized that night. How exciting! I am just amazed at everything our church has come from, and I can't wait to see it in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years (Lord willin' and the creek don't rise).
I am very appreciative.