Last night Paul went solo as this was to a men’s meeting and the last one of the season to boot. Twenty men enjoying the best food you could wish for, is it any wonder there was such a great atmosphere?
This tour of the United Reformed Churches has really made me think about the flip side of the Cosmetic Renewal Movement. That is what Graham Cooke called the Charismatic Renewal Movement and he is right, because while so many were focusing on so many cosmetic changes like switching hymn books for acetate machines, perfectly good pews for bucket seats and so on churches like the URC just plodded on being faithful with what they are good at.
My own personal gripe at the Cosmetic Renewal is how all modern pentecostal and charismatic church doors are flat like a common house door rather than arched at the top. So desperate were the architects to look non-religious they never gave a thought to funerals. In most of these churches it is impossible to have flowers on a coffin when shouldering and some doors are so low you cannot shoulder a coffin at all! It may sound funny to those not in the trade, but trying to crouch while carrying all that wood and a heavy body, then trying to straighten up again is a guaranteed back injury or accident sooner or later and hardly dignified now. Sadly many funeral directors are forced to use trolleys in pentecostal and charismatic churches rather than to shoulder in.
Anyway… speaking positively, while the Cosmetic Renewal was going full steam and those not moving with it considered left behind churches like the URC just faithfully carried on with what they are good at and one of the constants I see everywhere I go is their desire to make people welcome. This is not the job of an usher, this is the heart of the congregation! Sure they updated their technology and so forth, of course they did, but somehow they managed to keep the important things important, rather than the peripherals. At least, so far everywhere I’ve visited in The Midlands has.
I’m personally all for the best equipment, chairs and technology. My home church in Glasgow is a great example of this, apart from the flat doors of course. However, it is no small wonder the URC are about to embark on a national advertising campaign to let people know they will be welcome in their churches, because they really will be!
Although I could mention a good few great people I do have to mention Revd Graham Sweeney as both he and I are from a shipbuilding background. Men of Iron!
After the meal the men showed their appreciation to the ladies who prepared it and I was on. What a great fun time we all had. As Marian was not there Revd Graham gave me some nice flowers for her, looking suspiciously like the daffodils in the church garden, but nonetheless these are now in the tea-pot ready for her to find in the morning. I’m to tell her how much she is appreciated for missing out on me being around so that I could be there for them. How thoughtful!