The little church
The first church I ever knew was in Tomstown, Ontario.
The church sits on a side road of a small community. Even after many decades, and the passing of some families, and the arrival of others, the community still remains devoted to the little church.
In a way, it doesn't matter what the denomination was. It doesn't matter precisely how the people interpreted the Bible.
Over the years the people around the community have drawn to the little church. Lovingly, they have constructed a basement, and whenever there is a major event, such as a strawberry tea, a harvest dinner or a Christmas concert, the people come. Even if they never touched a Bible throughout the year, they come because they are all connected through that church. It has been a centre for the community since its early days. Washrooms, closets and the aforementioned basement all have been added, but the essence of the church has never changed. The community holds the church as its centre, and in its heart.
A few determined people hold this church together. They keep the doors open so that the community has a place to return.
Through the years multi-coloured stained glass windows had been added, and gleaming rows of pews stretched across the small room where so many met over the decades.
Community was built through Christmas concerts where new generations came and interacted with each other, and learned from the elders of other families. The knitting of the families happened in the church, forming the sometimes fragile, and sometimes impenetrable fabric on which friendships stood. At Easter, dedicated families brought baskets of flowers to decorate the front of the church. When summer arrived and school was out, the families united on the shore of a lake and brought sandwiches and desserts to share and celebrate with games and friendship the warming of the days. The year turns, always changing, as communities do, and elders leave, couples unite, and babies arrive, and children grow, and the church marks these changes, watching the families alter just as the landscape alters as the year goes by.
As a teenager I travelled across the province and visited many churches. In larger communities the churches were very grand, with steeples and great organs and many rows of pews. The architecture was stunning.
But it was always the smaller church in the smaller community that managed that special task of holding families and bringing them together. A church has had a special role in the building of our towns and holding people together through the centuries.
No matter where, and no matter the denomination, a church is a centre, and carries out its role of holding us all to our memories, our principles and our roots.