Making Best Use of Our Building

One year later, we have “learned the ropes” about our beautiful building. It has surprised us at times with its intelligence and beauty, doing things and allowing us to do things we could not do previously. At other times, we’ve had to adjust and perhaps have been pinched. There is no perfect building. We live and we learn. So in what follows, a few “heads up” tips as we move forward. And by the way, special thanks to Luke Wassum who has been MVP for figuring out our building. He has made sure the HVAC is scheduled properly and has addressed an array of issues over this past year, making sure loose ends were tied up. Thanks, Luke.

Sanctuary Seating Access. When you look at the configuration of our pews, you can see that we have one short pew (first pew on the piano side) that allows for wheel-chair, stroller or walkers to be seated. This needs to be recognized for what it is: making our sanctuary accessible. In other words, a wheel chair can “park” on either side of that short pew. Also, the longer first pew on the other side has been cut short to allow a wheel chair or walker to park there. How might we maximize these strengths?

  1. I would urge all of us to give our members in wheelchairs or using walkers the priority to sit in those spaces.
  2. I would ask the choir to move from the short first pew on the piano side to the longer pew toward the communion table side. This is a matter of just several steps but will make a world of difference for people who need those spaces.
  3. Ushers should be proactive and help guide wheelchairs and walkers to those prime spots for seating. It is sometimes difficult to navigate when there are people filling the pews. Ushers can be a very welcome guide to someone trying to locate a seat.

Food and Drink and Spilled Drinks. A year in and we can see stains on our carpet near the rest rooms and on the landing outside the sanctuary. Two thoughts. 1. If you take food or drink into the atrium area and spill it, please clean it up immediately and 2. Never bring food or drink into the sanctuary. It is our holiest place and as well, the most expensive in terms of furniture and flooring. The Nelson Multi-Purpose Room, with its linoleum floor, is the easiest room by far to weather such spills.

Entrance Doors. Remember the wooden doors at our entrance? Aren’t we glad to have the steel/glass doors? YES, we are. They can rattle though. So while we have become accustomed to hearing some noise in the sanctuary, it would be helpful if: carefully close the glass doors so they don’t make a racket and 2. Be careful of your voice levels upon entering, particularly if you’re running late and service has begun. Low voices, less talking and quietly coming to the landing and into the sanctuary would help ease some of that.

Parking Cars. We have really worked out the parking and that is due in no small part to the consistent presence of Imani on Sunday mornings, opening the door to allow cars inside to park. As well, Frank has been a great help getting in early on Sundays to open the door and hand it off to Imani and then graciously serving as a welcoming host in our atrium so visitors see someone with a friendly smile upon entering. Just don’t forget, your car has to be out by 3pm. If you do decide to hang out at the Wharf, be sure to make arrangements to get back inside the church so you can reach your car. You can always ask someone at the front desk at The Banks apartments to let you in or go to the bottom of the hill at the garage door and buzz to have them let you in.

Clean-up. We have a custodial service that comes into the church on Mondays and Thursdays but it would be especially helpful for all of us to pitch in especially on Sundays. Remove bulletins from the pews, for example. Or as the saying goes, if you see something, say something or do something —we want to keep the church clean and bug and rodent free. I think we’re doing a good job with this overall. Koinonia lunches continue to be a challenge as Jonathan and Ed tend to tie up all the loose ends and take trash out. It would help enormously to have folks volunteer to help them return the multi-purpose room to its clean state, take out trash and otherwise fill a dishwasher and wash, turn off the Keurig machine and make sure the doors on the refrigerator and ice machine are closed upon leaving.

Audio Visual. We are so thankful for Anthony’s providing the video feed to the downstairs TV in the multi-purpose room (and recording the service and placing the sermon each Sunday onto the web site where folks can hear it). Another way our church is “smart” is the hearing loop provided via our sound system. I hope in the coming weeks and months that we might revisit how we can put that technology into the hands of folks who could benefit by the hearing assistance.

That’s a long list but you know, we haven’t had a chance to sort some of this out and I’m preparing to leave so it’s just as well that I get this list going. If you have a concern or idea, don’t hesitate to let a trustee know or let Karl know and this can be updated in a newsletter in the future. Speaking of the building, this past Sunday was a glorious success as we tested our baptistry! A month ago, Karl and Jonathan helped me do a dry run of a baptism and Luke climbed on a ladder to reach the heat dial in a ceiling panel in the church office. All of them and other trustees like Etzel and Ed have also helped. Sarah Fairbrother found wonderful mats to catch the water and Deacon Laurel helped guide our baptismal candidate to the right points. I thought it went very, very well.

We have a few loose ends (like assigning a deacon to pick up the wet robe and towels in the dressing rooms) but really, it was a great success. How beautiful to see a young person baptized (congrats to Alexandra!). And Rev. Ruth said it so beautifully in her brief sermon, telling Alexandra (and all of us) that of all the clothes we will wear in our lives, nothing will be as beautiful as that wet, white robe worn into the waters of baptism where, before the world, we declare our faith and are baptized into Christ forever.

Thanks for being the people of God. ~Pastor Bledsoe