It’s not about numbers, but when you are worshiping in the downstairs meeting room to save on the heat, and you expect somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty people, and you end up running out of bulletins and setting up extra chairs because there are 71 (!), it feels good.
Up in the sanctuary, spread out over enough seats for 200 people, this crowd would have felt sparse. But in the downstairs meeting room, named after a female Saint of the Church, people sat elbow to elbow, sharing rows with unusual neighbors, passing the peace with hands they do not usually shake. When they stand to sing, they look very tall to a preacher standing on their level instead of above, a wall of the faithful.
Half a dozen visitors swelled our ranks as we baptized a woman a little younger than I and made her a covenant member. The water for baptism I poured into a clear glass trifle bowl I brought from home. Under it I spread a piece of fabric with subtle white, brown and tan stripes, reminiscent of a sandy river bottom. Beside it sat the chalice and paten, and on the other side a glass holder for six tea lights.
After coffee, during the Church Council meeting, the remaining children went upstairs with their teachers and made stained glass “windows” for our bulletin board/focal point, to hang on either side of the Guatemalan cross from my office.
I wonder if it’s true that this congregation might have split over a vote to sell the building, would have lost the people who treasure the sanctuary if they left the building behind?
In this meeting room today, we had church, all 71 of us, and it was good.