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central avenue united methodist church, uptown location, good friday 2012

i'm often asked why i continue to live in athens.

i look at this picture and believe that i would be crazy to leave such a place.

to clarify: it would certainly be easy enough to walk away from an old refurbished auto parts store. walking away from the people and vision that brought it to life is another question entirely.

this building isn't about us. it isn't about an additional space to hold baby showers or committee meetings or fundraisers. it isn't about being hip or cool or relevant. it may or may not be all of these things, but that isn't what it's about.

this building isn't about dragging people to church. it isn't about inviting unsuspecting people to a religious function in disguise. it isn't about an "if you like Thing X, you'll love our Thing Y," sort of christian bait-and-switch. that isn't what it's about.

this building represents growth. central's beautiful one hundred year old stonework building on the west side of athens was growing too small for our needs. we discovered that despite offering saturday services, lots of people just really, really like showing up on sunday mornings. and then we found this old building on carpenter street. the structure itself also needed to grow -- we're clocking in at over a year's worth of renovations and still not quite done -- but, oh, how we've all grown.

this building will allow for congregational growth. unhindered by capacity issues, another service can be added here on sundays; perhaps two, perhaps more, in the great unknown of the future. it is within walking distance of campus and of several neighborhoods close to uptown. all of these things fulfill the needs we intended to fulfill.

this building will also allow for community growth, both within central and without and, ultimately, together. athens [as well as central itself] is a community of musicians, of artists, of multi-talents. carefully crafted with this in mind, we have created a sanctuary of freedom and movement and creativity. it is a place of invitation. and it fulfills desires we may not ever have dreamed about otherwise.

that's what this is about. it is about creating a venue where people can be who they were made to be, and giving them the opportunity to do so. that might mean a dance performance, that might mean a magic show, that might mean poetry or literature, that might mean sunday morning worship; it might mean any number of things. what it will always mean is that regardless of what day of the week or time of day or nature of the activity, this space is sacred.

this building is holy -- set aside for the Maker to delight in what He has made, whether the participants realize, or care, or disagree, or have perhaps never given thought or voice to such an idea. no amount of ceremony or vestments or sprinkling of water makes this space, or any other space, holy. it is a choice. and we, the people of central, have chosen to transform an old automotive supply store into a place set aside for unhindered, unpredictable growth. may it ever be so.

Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 04:56PM by Registered Commentermdog | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

That's kinda beautiful. It almost makes me want to quit bugging you to move to Seattle...

But only almost ;)

Apr 15, 2012 at 09:14PM | Unregistered CommenterIan

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