An Old Church
Updated: Sep 1, 2019
“So, when are you going to join the church?”
My friend’s question caught me off guard. “Um…,” I stammered and then shrugged.
I honestly hadn’t really thought about committing to church membership. Ten months earlier, when my marriage fell apart, I mindlessly found my way to a pew in the balcony. Every week I sat alone desperate to hear the Word of God, desperate to know the Lord cared about me and my broken heart, and desperate to know how I was going to survive.
Several times over the next few days, I thought about my friend’s question. Why hadn’t I joined? Was it the idea of making a commitment? After all, my recent experience with commitment left a bad taste in my mouth. I chewed on the possibly for a few minutes; no, that wasn’t it.
I thought back to the numerous churches I had attended growing up. As I mentally went back in time, I formed my conclusion: the two churches where I felt the most loved and sensed the presence of the Lord were both old pristine white churches with large stained-glass windows and wooden pews.
I vividly remember, as a seven-year old, sitting on the pew, alternating my attention between turning the pages of my brand-new Bible and studying the scenes in the large stained-glass windows. The morning sun, as it shone through the windows, cast a brilliant warmth throughout the sanctuary. I felt safe and loved. Then as a young adult, I attended a Christmas concert at a church located in a neighboring city’s downtown historical district. The December snow covered the large evergreens which framed the front of the church. Inside soft chandelier lighting reflected off the dark wood pews. I clearly remember the moment I literally felt a comforting warmth envelop me; surely, I thought, this is the Presence of the Lord.
I wanted to sense that feeling again. I wanted to be a part of a church that had stood the test of time and had persevered. I wanted to be a member of an old church.
The following Sunday, as the invitation time approached, I was suddenly acutely aware of the lighting reflecting on the back of the pew in front of me. I was enveloped in warmth. Just as quickly, I sensed an unexpected quickening in my gut. By the time the Pastor started the invitation time, my stomach was in knots and my heart was pounding.
I heard the Whisper, “So, when are you going to join the church?”
I argued silently with the Lord. “Um, Lord, don’t you remember, I want to be a member of an old church?”
Again, I felt the prompting. Again, I argued. “Lord, I want to be a member of an old church, one that has stood the test of time and persevered...”
At that precise moment, the Pastor spoke, “There’s not a better day to join than today - on Olive’s 100th birthday!”
Then I heard the Whisper again, “So, is 100 years old enough for you?”
“Well, Lord, you have a point.” Without hesitation, I gathered my things, hurried down from my pew in the balcony and joined the church.
That was 25 years ago...and since that day, I have called Olive Baptist my church home. Week after week, the Word of God is clearly presented and the Gospel unashamedly proclaimed. The love of the brethren abounds and it is evident that the Presence of the Lord is in His church (His people) and the church-house.
While Olive may be large and contemporary in design, the legacy roots - planted by a handful of faithful Jesus-followers in September of 1894 - run deep and are far-reaching. By the favor of the Lord and the faithfulness of her members, Olive has stood the test of time and continues to persevere in carrying on the work started by those first-families. May all who come behind me find me just as faithful.
I am thankful to be a member of an old church.
At the Heart of Things: Happy 125th Birthday, Olive!
What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. ~ Matthew 10:27