Here it is yesterday.
Our church was established in 1862. Australia has changed a great deal since then, but the gospel has not changed, and today it is still as true and relevant to the needs of men and women as it was then. Over the years God has blessed us and our congregation has grown. Our lovely bluestone building can no longer hold the number of people who meet there every Sunday morning and evening. It is time for change.
Change - a red rag to a raging bull.
Not only do we need to consider the church building's heritage listings and run all of our plans past Geelong's heritage council, but we also have an even greater responsibility to take into account the differing personalities, opinions and feelings of the people who make up our church congregation. I do not envy the task of our Renovation Committee, ably headed by my wonderful brother-in-law (seen between my mum and hubby in the photo above - that's my sis on the right) one bit. The men and women on that Committee need the diplomacy and tact of Winston Churchill to deal with their fellow brothers in Christ with sensitivity and understanding. This is an amazing gift.
A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing. Proverbs 13:17Of course no one has the ability to say just the right thing or to act toward another in just the right way every time. We know that relationships and interpersonal actions require at least two parties, and when one of them is not God, the possibility for misunderstanding and offense is very real. We have managed to hurt some of the members of our congregation. Nevertheless, with the help of the Holy Spirit to inspire and guide their words and actions, the Renovation Committee has for the most part managed to 'soothe the wicked beast' (just to keep up the angry bull imagery) and move the work forward.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:1-4
Last Monday the old wooden pews were removed. The old termite damaged floorboards have been lifted and the joists will be replaced to prevent somebody falling through the floor. New pews have been purchased, new carpet will be laid, and the pulpit will be lowered. The new design will fit more people in more comfort, and we will meet Occupational Health and Safety regulations at the same time.
Later we will redo the hall as well. We will be adding class rooms, a new kitchen and a separate creche.
I can't help feeling a little wistful as I look at those 'before' pictures. I was married in that church. So were my siblings, my parents and my grandparents before me. I liked the old wooden pews, the high imposing pulpit and the elegant austerity of the building. On the other hand, I see the need for these changes. I accept them with excitement.
I must admit that I suspect I shall appreciate the new padded pews and the new heating system just a little bit too.
The before photos were taken by another member of our congregation with more foresight than me. Thanks, Meg.
'After' pics coming soon!!