Lately I’ve been thinking about floor plans. Old ones, like from my childhood. I’m picturing our house from my early years, my old church, my grandparents’ Lake house. I’m drawing them in my mind, and imagining the flooring, the room locations, the wall colors. These are a kid’s memories, so I don’t know about the accuracy of them, but I do know the magical recollections in my head.
I woke the other morning thinking about the layout of Macedonia Christian Church. I grew up there – we were at church all the time in my early years – Sunday mornings and evenings and mid-week evening services. Add to that Vacation Bible School and church revivals – we spent hours there. My folks were very actively involved in Children’s Ministries, so there were even extra hours for them to prep, and that meant that my sister and I often had run (i.e., without adult supervision) of the building to play and explore.
My favorite part was the old section of the basement. The ground floor of the Sunday School hallway was uneven and slanted – it felt like the cement had simply been poured over the ground below, without any leveling involved. The five or six classrooms were paneled, so very little light came into the hallway, and it was fun to run through the hall in the dark or play hide-and-seek.
Up the stairs at one end took me outside to under the covered driveway, and another half flight went up to a hallway with a large room used for Sunday worship for the youth group and other gatherings. There was also the Pastor’s office, the church library, bathrooms, and the nursery area. Then a short hallway with coat racks went from there to the narthex and the Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary seemed huge with lots of long wooden pews, the two side aisles and one center aisle all leading to the front of the church where the worship leader led singing and where the preacher spoke from behind a podium. Below the podium, still on the main floor with the pews, was a large heavy wooden table with a chair on each side – green upholstery, I think. The table was carved with “Do This In Remembrance of Me” along the front edge. This was where the communion trays were brought and from where it was distributed. There was a door on either side of this center space at the front of the side aisles, one leading to stairs to the basement of the church, one leading to two tiny rooms off the baptistery. The organ sat on one side of the front of the church, and the piano was on the other. Behind the communion table and along the raised platform was a small railing to guard the edge. The podium was centered on the stage behind the communion table – it had a small microphone attached to it. Behind the podium was a little space, then the choir seats. Behind that was the baptistery.
There were two rooms at the back of the sanctuary. One was set up as the “overflow” room and the other was sometimes seating and sometimes the folding door was pulled so it could be a classroom.
There were two sets of stairs from the narthex to the outside. One went down to the front of the church, and the other went to the side parking lot. All the way down those stairs was the hallway – to the right was the old basement hallway again, and left took me into the Fellowship Hall – a large room that was full of tables and lots of food on Sunday pot-luck days, with the kitchen to the back. More classrooms lined this area, and there were the bathrooms, a tiny elevator, and the drinking fountain that smelled and tasted funny because it was well-water. The back stairs were mostly off limits – they went up to the door by the side of the sanctuary platform – a big no-no when my sister and I were running around!
I have lots of memories of the different rooms at Macedonia for all kinds of different reasons: Sunday Schooling, helping in the nursery, putting together communion trays and washing them all at the end of a service. Visits every Sunday to the library. Walking into the tiny baptistery room on a Wednesday night to get ready for my dunking after I had told the church that Jesus is my Savior and Friend forever. Hours in the large community room for Junior High Worship or Vacation Bible School evenings. Running in the hallways. Playing in the churchyard. A very good place to grow up. Indeed.
“In my father’s house there are many rooms …” Childhood churches always seem more welcoming and wonderful and mysterious than the ones I know now.
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It’s fun to go back to those childhood rooms and see that they aren’t so big and intimidating as they were when you were a kid!
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That’s so true!