With an uncharacteristic lack of foresight, I forgot to bring my camera to the new church building this morning. My father did bring his camera and, of course, there's always next week, so you have my word that I shall post pictures of the new facility as soon as I have them. It was an exciting and wonderful morning, so I thought I would take a few moments to talk about it here.
The chapel itself would hold around 100 to 150 people (we currently weigh in at a modest 30ish.) The design is a church built and furnished somewhere between 1940 and 1990 (in usual church style, style is slow to change and therefore hard to guess exact dates.) It's very nice. It is clearly a multi-million dollar facility. The dark varnish wood of the altar, ceiling and side panels, the rock wall behind the altar, the white walls and the stained glass speak to days gone by, which fits very well with our church's tone, as well as the slightly laid back small chapel feel. The pews and carpet are an Emerald City green, but are right on the line of being ready for new upholstery. There is an altar, a pulpit, and an upright piano which one would imagine a lady in her 80s with hair the blue of the sun-bleached stained glass would be very much at home pounding out "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" or "The Family of God" to the enthusiastic voices of a venerable and well dressed congregation. Needless to say it reminds me very much of the 100 year old church I grew up in.
There is a breathtaking garden in the center of the campus (and a very old oak in the school campus across the parking lot which I would be shocked to learn if it wasn't around when John Bidwell was in Chico.) There is a fountain, a wide variety of flowers, a well manicured lawn and perhaps the greatest testimony to the conscientiousness of the gardener, an olive tree in full fruit without a single olive on the ground. Living in the section of town where I live, this garden is like a little slice of Calvin's Geneva for me. It's a beautiful, meditative place, as I would suggest a church probably ought to be.
Another Reformed Church meets in the main sanctuary and I am told that they are even more strictly Reformed than we.
We have access to the ample kitchen and a surprisingly large social hall. One of my favorite details was the bathrooms. They are clearly over 25 years old, for the use of the public, and have never known the harsh touch of the graffiti hand. One has the sense when one is using it that it may have been days since another human has set foot in them. In the hallway there is a series of sketches which served as perfect conversation pieces within our group. The drawings are of Jesus in various places highlighting aspects of His character. The two that were most surprising was the one of Jesus as a defender which featured Him looking very angry over a dead or wounded puppy. The other was of Jesus the compassionate and was a picture of Him reading a modern newspaper and weeping.
It was Reformation Sunday so we sang "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." I do the scripture reading and it was kind of a humbling moment for me to mount the green carpeted steps to the pulpit and read the Messianic Prophetic words of Isaiah. Pat preached on Grace. It was a wonderful Sunday morning.
I understand that a church can meet anywhere and that the church is not the building. Having said that, it's truly a wonderful thing to meet in a building that was built with divine worship as the function.