Waiting. Before church. After church. While your driver gets caught in conversation. Or the children use the restroom.
There are times when you really want to sit while you wait. And not on the church steps. (Although during Bible school I ate lunch many times while sitting on the cement steps. Knees — and other things — were younger, more flexible then.)
One of the families had an excellent idea when they donated this memorial bench between parking lot and church door.
It’s sturdy against the extremes of Wisconsin weather. And a nice, friendly size to sit and have a chat.
While individuals differ on the description — almost everyone likes the idea.
We spend money, and time selecting the seating in our homes. And we supply ideas and trust others to select chairs, benches, and pews for more public places.
A small town church with over a century of history is one example.
The church board, or committee, which selected these pews chose well. It is my understanding that they have been “turned around” twice when the building was remodeled. The cushions are new since by last visit to the interior. We used to “slide” from one end to the other while waiting for the Sunday school teacher. The flooring under them has changed. The hymnal racks remain in use.
Imagine for a moment: The hands which have gripped the smooth tops.
An elderly person reaches for a little extra stability.
A grieving spouse, child, or parent needs balance following a casket.
A toddler demonstrate how high they can reach.
An usher touches the wood and leans forward to have a word.
Centennials get celebrated in many different ways.
A person — let’s have a party with cake and balloons.
A war or tragedy — a solemn ceremony with bells, candles, and prayers.
A town or school or church — this requires a multi-part celebration. Let’s do enough that everyone is included in at least a portion.
This brings us to today’s photograph.
Before the celebration, each household in the church was encouraged to take home a quilt square and decorate it with embroidery or paint with something representing the family, including the name. When the squares were returned, several ladies of the church sewed them together to make this unique wall hanging — displayed at the back of the worship area.
Years have passed. Several of the households represented in fabric have dissolved through death or divorce.
For the infrequent visitor, it’s a quiet, delightful way to stir memories. A small town church, remembering their own.
There is a series of light-hearted plays popular in the Midwest featuring “The Church Basement Ladies.”
Have you ever wondered about the settting? Remember the brick schoolhouse/church from a recent post?
The basement was dug in the late 1940’s or early 50’s. Two entrances like required in every public building — one was a door direct to the outside, the other a narrow set of steps up to the building’s front narthex/coatroom/entrance. The main features when I was a child included: a large furnace (wood burning, then later oil), a kitchen with a propane stove, tables, wooden folding chairs, and (a requirement for all church basements) a support post a perfect diameter to grasp while twirling until you were dizzy.
A few remodels and updates later — the space hosts Sunday school classes, regular pot-luck suppers, and funeral lunches.
More than 125 years ago, the village faced a problem.
Their log school building burned down every few years. So they made a decision and built a brick, one-room schoolhouse. They gave it six generous windows for light. A door on one end. And a bell in a short, square tower.
Several years later, the village faced a different problem. The brick schoolhouse was too small. This time, they found some land a couple blocks away and built a larger brick schoolhouse. But what to do with the empty building?
We’ll buy it. A group of people who had been holding church services in home replied. And they did. In 1894.
The small town congregation will be celebrating this year. With a service in the same building. Yes — it’s changed. They added electricity. Dug a basement. Put in central heat and plumbing. Stained glass windows replaced the clear ones. Plaster. Paint. Remodel times 3 or 4 or more.
Clean, classic design. Uncluttered. Functional while pleasing to the eye.
In the previous installment of this blog I introduced you to a touch of Sir Christopher Wren in Missouri. Today I focus on some of his work located where you’d expect — London.
A tourist would be unobservant if they did not notice St. Paul’s during a visit to London. It’s a landmark. A reference point which I’m sure more than one visitor uses to find or confirm their location each day.
It’s on a grander scale than the bombed church moved stone by stone. Columns are thick — but they look right at home in the space with their height. Ceilings are vaulted high above the floor — giving man a hint of his importance (or lack thereof). The dome soars above, a marvel of engineering even to this day. The crypt (not a basement) contains tombs of several famous men. Including Sir Christopher Wren with a simple plaque urging you to look around for his true monument.
Yes, I mean Sir Christopher Wren, the English architect who lived and died before the United States became a nation. Missouri hosted a few adventurous Europeans – more French than English – during his lifetime. But for the most part it remained a home to Native Americans and abundant wildlife.
So how are they connected?
The story includes cities, colleges, a president and a prime minister.
There was a war. London endured bombings in which many buildings, including some of the smaller churches designed by Wren after the Great London Fire were destroyed by fire. A college in Missouri purchased one of these churches, moved it, and assembled it stone by stone (with repairs) on campus. Then they invited the US President (a native son) and the British Prime Minister (son of an American mother) to speak on campus. (I’m not certain if the church was reconstructed before or after the speech.) Then the speech became famous because of the phrase “Iron Curtain”.
In use as the campus chapel, the Christopher Wren church stands proud today. A nice museum on the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill is in the basement. (I’d say crypt but I don’t think any bodies are entombed.)