Church Anniversary

This time last week I was looking forward to my 20th wedding anniversary. This week I’m looking forward to the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of the opening of our church premises in Dundonald. We’ve all sorts of things planned and I hope that it will be both enjoyable and challenging for all who join with us.
But one of the things that will be said, and has already been said a hundred times over, is that despite us celebrating the 40th anniversary of the opening of the church building… the church itself is NOT a building, but the people who meet within and minister from that building…
It was Winston Churchill who once said “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” I don’t think he was talking about churches specifically when he said that, but it is a statement that was never truer than when referring to places of worship.
On the negative side, church buildings can be erected to facilitate certain actions carried out in God’s name at a particular time and place… But time moves on and so do people, and often churches are left with buildings that may be beautiful but are no longer fit for purpose, and they find that the buildings end up dictating what they have to do, which often involves an inordinate amount of fundraising to pour into building maintenance and repairs, a situation which may become more difficult for historic church buildings in future because of cut-backs in public spending. We should never forget that church buildings are primarily venues for worship, and should never be objects of worship in their own right.
But on the more positive side, buildings erected to the glory of an eternal and ever present God, rather than a temporal and temporary human agenda, can serve to inspire generation after generation to higher things (for a more developed reflection on this, see Glenn Jordan's paper presented to the Methodist Conference this year on "Sacred Space.")
Our church building is on a hill in the middle of a 60s housing estate, and while it may not stir the soul like a soaring Gothic cathedral, I pray that it, and the work that goes on within it, may continue for another 40 years and more to help lift peoples eyes from the everyday, towards the eternal... To something more solid than mere bricks and mortar…

This is the second of a series of pre-recorded "Thought for the Day"s broadcast today on Radio Ulster in a slightly abbreviated form, and available here for one week only! (At 26 mins 10 seconds and 1 hour 56 minutes).

If you are interested in joining us for our Anniversary Celebrations this weekend, the details are:
Friday 25th September
7.30pm Anniversary Concert: with Salvation Army Youth Choir
Saturday 26th September
10.00am Day of Discovery: with Rev. Des Bain, for all interested in helping to shape the future direction of Dundonald Methodist Church.
Sunday 26th September

11am Anniversary Service with Rev. Des Bain (Home Missions Secretary)
1 pm Celebration Lunch
7 pm Service of Reception into Full Membership with Rev. Donald Ker (President of the Methodist Church in Ireland)

Hope to see you there...


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