The worship service I have been helping to lead for nearly 4 years now made a big transition this week. We moved out of the Morton Theatre and into the fellowship hall of our church building. This is a good transition for us for many reasons. The new space enables a lot of community activities that the theatre space inhibited. It seriously cuts down on our set-up and tear-down time, and it saves the church money. I have long felt uncomfortable with the way leading church from a proscenium stage makes worship seem too much like a concert or show.
Nevertheless, transitions lead one to reflect on all the good things we are leaving behind. I’ve been thinking about other transitions from my life, and thought I should perhaps reflect on this closing era for me.
I remember vividly my first day at the Morton. I was adjusting to my new life in Athens, after living here for maybe a month. I was frustrated because I missed Centrepointe quite a bit, and hadn’t felt especially welcomed or at home in any of the churches I visited, though I did see places I could perhaps use the gifts I had developed in college, which was important to me. The only reason I went to the Morton at all was that a friend suggested it. I didn’t see myself in such a large congregation or such a rock-toned service. Within a week, though, I knew that God had prepared a place for me here. For one thing, it was the last week of the band’s violin player, Andre. I talked to Julie after church about playing and singing, and I got an email a few days later asking me to participate in an offertory. Even though I arrived alone and sat toward the edge, several people were very welcoming to me. I know that this hasn’t been everyone’s experience in this service, but it was a clear signal to me that this was my place.
Since then I’ve rarely missed a Sunday playing with some of the best musicians I have ever been around. I’ve learned a lot about the Christian life from the people I’ve met at the morton. A lot of those things have surprised me. I know that none of these things are changing in our new space, but the old theatre was special because it was the site of these important relationships that helped me acclimate to my current stage of life in the south.
Our first service in our new space had a feeling of excitement and community. I could see the people, and there was space for us all to hang around afterwards. I have really missed feeling like that fellowship time was encouraged. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in the upcoming years. God has really shown me through this church, and through my previous church homes that there will always be a place for me wherever I move. None of these places are perfect, but they are all beautiful.