Church in a Barn

Yesterday I went to church in a barn — a big old empty red barn. Light came in through the open door, the windows at one end, and cracks in the walls and ceiling. We sat in circles of lawn chairs. The weather was chilly and rainy, but there were lap blankets to share. It was all quite wonderful — the singing, kids’ story, homily, prayers — and the joy of being together was palpable. Some 90 or so people of the faith community Helmut and I became a part of when we moved to B.C. six years ago, and here we were, meeting in a barn, and I couldn’t help thinking of the early Anabaptists who also met to worship in houses, caves, and barns.

This wasn’t some gimmick to take us back to the sixteenth century, however, because we’re actually kind of homeless at the moment. It’s been a rough couple of months; our former congregation has had a calamitous collapse and the majority of us have left. I don’t want to recount the whole sad story here, except to say that it happened, and since my weblog concerns my life, I need to mention it. (For those interested, journalist John Longhurst documented it at Anabaptist World as well as at his blog. And let me be clear, I stand with our pastors and for LGBTQ inclusion.) There’s plenty of hurt, anger, grief, but community means everything in situations like this, and as I said, yesterday morning the joy lifted into the rafters. The barn belongs to a couple in the group and may be our “cathedral” for a few months, as we continue to process the circumstances and journey into something new, into clarity and forgiveness. 

One thing I did last week to “process” for myself was to sit in my car at the former place and do a quick loose sketch of that beloved building. I’m a person who’s strongly affected by places and spaces. What I mean is, I often have as vivid a memory of the location as the details of what occurred in it. The surround of the environment becomes inseparable from, or even stands in for, what it hosts and contains. Following the lines of the building with my eye and hand, though only approximately for sure, felt like a caress I had to give it in gratitude and farewell. The right side ended up squished into the coils of the sketchbook, but never mind that, it was just a little exercise to help myself on the way!IMG_0860

9 thoughts on “Church in a Barn

  1. We have had much the same happening to us, so I understand your pain, but God is faithful – and I’m sure that all will be well eventually. I love your drawing – what a good idea and now for pastures new. May you all be blessed as you deliberate on where you should be in God’s great plan. M xx

  2. Thanks for the blog. We weren’t there yesterday but have seen the pictures and comments. We are still processing our “homelessness”. The last time I was in CPC I wept at the loss, not of the building so much as the relationships and the sense of community that we worked so hard to develop and nurture.

  3. According to some scriptural interpretations Jesus was born in a barn, so why not worship in a barn?
    Loved your sketch!

  4. So many things one could say about being “born in a barn” and this may be a great meeting place for a while.. Loved your sketch too.

  5. Ah Dora, the pain of grief hit me so hard at seeing your sketch of our gathering place of so many years. I miss our times together under that roof. But I’m also thankful for your description of another roof that sheltered many on Sunday as they shared the fellowship of the faithful. I wish we could have been there and I pray our future times together are hopeful and healing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  6. Thank you for this, Dora. You have expressed many of my feelings too – and in such sweet, tender words.
    I miss our church and the fellowship we had there so much….sometimes it just hits me like a rock. But I am excited to hear that the “Barn Church” was a great experience for so many. Unfortunately we have both been side-lined by Covid these past 2 weeks so were unable to be there but are now on the mend.
    We look forward to joining you at the next get- together.

  7. Thanks for this, Dora. I’ve wondered how you’ve been in the wild ride that your “former place” experienced in the last weeks. There’s something Anabaptistly authentic about meeting in a “barn” now. Wishing you well in the grief, but also the renewal that seems to be brewing.

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