Thursday, March 22, 2012

Green church paint and a time that is gone, part 2

As I was saying, I've attended the same church for most of my life, but many things have changed.   The paint is white now.  The foyer is carpeted, there's a small nursery, children's church, and no one ever stands behind the pulpit to preach a sermon.

Mennonites are not a liturgical people, but the church of my early childhood was so structured as to be the next thing to liturgy.  We arrived a few minutes before 9, and filed into the sanctuary.  Men sat on the right side, women sat on the left.  There were a number of plain coats on the older men, and coverings on most women over 15.  (Most families with young children did sit together, although my parents found it beneficial to sit separately with us - sort of a divide and conquer strategy). 

At 9, the song leader would stand up and lead a hymn, accappella.  The Sunday School superintendant would have a short devotional, and we'd be dismissed to Sunday School.  As we filed out, we'd sing another song, often "Follow the Path of Jesus."  It was always fun to guess when the singing would stop as we entered our respective classrooms.

After Sunday School we all came back upstairs.  We would have a brief time of announcements, several more hymns, and the offering.  The sermon started at 10:30, and was nearly always over by 11, or 11:15 if the preacher really had a lot to say.  To help keep us aware of time,there was a clock thoughtfully placed above the pulpit, so the congregation could fix their eyes upon it, as well as a clock on the rear wall above the door, so the preacher could be aware of his time limit. 

Most preachers would end with a benediction, such as "Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the throne with exceeding joy, the only wise God our Savior, be glory, majesty, dominion and power both now and forevermore."  I haven't heard that in years, but it's still there in memory.  He would walk down the aisle while we sang the final hymn (often the doxology), and shake hands as people left the sanctuary.

More next time!


  1. I certainly don't remember all the details of how things went (like singing as we walked out or sitting separately as a family), but I remember the look of the church, the green paint, the men's and women's annexes and the wonderful feeling when the doxology was said. Not only was it like the preacher was blessing us, but it also meant that in just a few moments we would be free to run outside or go find the older person who had gum or candy for the kids.
    I also remember the old men who sad on the back bench by the main doors and whose hats hung on the wall above them.

  2. It would be funny sometime, in the right setting, to start the doxology and see who all present could chime in. I could! The clocks ... I miss the clocks - for both parties. And (Amy) our church, too, had rows of hooks in the back for old men's hats (and women's bonnets, too, I suppose), but it was the youth who sat in the back (and penciled codes in the hymnals instead of listening to the sermons, I'm sorry to say). Julia, you have a great memory! Thanks for bringing all that back.