Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church
March 13, 2009
One Final Proposal for Worship
Corporate memory is an interesting thing.
I am speaking of this congregation of Dublin Community Church. Over the past four weeks I have been focusing on the church building itself. Even more exact, I have been focusing on the sanctuary and what it means to us.
A couple weeks ago I mentioned that my e-grams such as this, usually refrain from “inside” discussions of church matters …. and then I proceeded to write the next four weeks of e-grams concentrating on church matters. My apologies for that, but this is a special time for the life of this church. This is week number four. Indulge me for one last time.
The corporate memory of Dublin Community Church encompasses all our shared history and all that we perceive about our history. Highlights of our history include being one of the earliest churches in town; the great “cyclone” of 1912; the merging of three churches in 1913 when the other two churches were destroyed. I keep hearing about former parsonages that were here and there around town. At one time we owned this property or that property. We had parking lots here and over in that section of the downtown.
Our organizations included, besides the usual church-type groups, and others like the Shamrockers. Depending on the age of the person speaking you will hear a particular slice of history pertaining to Dublin Community Church.
But our history goes only as far as the listener cares to take it. I mentioned last week about Dick Termeer coming to speak to the confirmation class about our history. I enjoyed seeing the “light come on” when for the first time, many connected the name Washington Gladden who helped found the Community Church aspect of our congregation with the name of the Gladden Chapel.
Gladden Chapel was the only sanctuary of our church prior to the building of our current large sanctuary. I think the name is fitting and a fine tribute to a visionary in our history, but I have never asked, “just who decided a few years back to give the formal name of ‘Gladden Chapel’ to the 1877 sanctuary?” I imagine that in short order a number of folks will tell me how that came about.
So, we are in the midst of this capital fund drive to pay down the mortgage and increase our ministries. That is all good. Everyone has said it is an admirable thing to do, to address a mortgage. But we figured that as we looked at the mortgage and the reasons for building in the first place and as we unearthed some of the discussions from a decade and a half ago, we might also unearth some long nearly-forgotten debates about the purpose of the new sanctuary and the direction of the church.
Unless I am totally oblivious to the discussions around me, I have heard nothing. Not a thing. What has been a wonderful surprise is that as we address the mortgage, what has surfaced from the past is the hopefulness and anticipation that our church felt 15 years ago when the new sanctuary was first put on architectural drawings. The excitement of dreaming about a worship space that could house the entire congregation under one roof at one time. Frankly, this whole capital fund drive has revived memories like those of a married couple remembering their first date. Indeed, the campaign has been about finances. But, to a greater extent it has been about dreams and delayed-dreams and now revived-dreams.
There has never been any doubt in my mind that in order for Dublin Community Church to live and thrive, this new sanctuary was more than a wish; it was a necessity. The type of folks who live in this area may enjoy the sight of our quaint chapel, but they require a certain level of programming which could only be offered via the modern sanctuary.
My predecessors and the congregation got it right. The only way to survive was to build and you did and we have grown and will continue to do so.
But I have to smile. The reason to build was because the church had two congregations in effect, the early morning worshippers and the late morning worshippers. The people in those respective services barely knew each other. “When we build the large sanctuary, then everyone in Dublin Community church can worship under one roof at one time.”
That has proven to be true. But what I have found is that because of the size of the sanctuary and the three main entrances and the numbers of new members…the folks on the right side of the sanctuary never meet the folks on the left side of the sanctuary.
Which is why I am going to institute “Shuffle Sundays.” You won’t want to miss it.
Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing