Just before the first worship service began.
For the past 15 months our church has been undertaking a renovation project of the entire level on which the International Fellowship meets for Sunday worship. The project began as a response to the growth that the International Fellowship had experienced and the need for more space. After months of planning and meeting, they finally began work on the space in June of 2008. At that time, the International fellowship moved upstairs into the large sanctuary on the main floor. In order to accommodate this move, the Swedish fellowship moved their service to 10.00 and we held ours at 12.00. It was a year of sharing facilities, learning to live together with limited space and adjust to things not being perfect. Overall, the 15 months went well.
In the meantime, the work continued on our level. Sunday, 6 September, we were able to move back in! The changes that have been made are remarkable. Not only do we have a much bigger space, it is a much more beautiful space with lots of wide open areas. The sleek Swedish design philosophy of function coupled with beauty could not be more evident. Curtains in greens, blues, and purples line the walls giving the sanctuary a distinctively international flavor. With over 50 nations of our world represented in our fellowship, this is indeed a deep reflection of who worships in the space.
Additionally, we have now moved into the modern era of being able to project song words, scriptures and other aspects of our liturgy onto screens. This will enable people to sing with their eyes up and free their hands from a cumbersome program. It is a much "greener" situation as well as we can now print a program on one sheet of paper as opposed to four that we needed in the past.
As pastors, we are close to the congregation now. It feels good. The sound is wired in such a way that provides balance throughout the space. It feels cozy and warm and forward looking.
Our theme has been that while the building is beautiful and a great gift to our congregation, it is how we use it and fill it that really matters. We've urged our congregation and ourselves to consider the renovation that God wants to do in our lives and in our congregation alongside of the building renovation.
The first service in the new space was a wonderful experience with few mistakes. It was a smooth transition. As people came down the stairs or in the new entrance, it was a delight to see the wonder on their faces, surprised by the amazing transformation that had taken place while we had been worshiping upstairs.
Two verses from a hymn in the Covenant Hymnal really sum up the vision we have for our new worship space. I leave you with those words.
"Each man and woman raise your voice, come children sing out loud. For everyone is welcome here within the house of God. For everyone is welcome here within the house of God.
The lonely find companionship, the refugee a home. Each race and culture sing as one and all to God are known. Each race and culture sing as one and all to God are known."
Words and music by Richard Carlson