Slice of Life, Chapter 24

(This is part of the Slice of Life Project)

Our family’s church is raising the roof. Literally. Figuratively. Musically.

Let me back up a bit. Our church — The First Churches of Northampton — is an historical site in our downtown. Some version of the church has been a centerpiece of the city for almost 350 years and the congregation was the home to religious firebrand Jonathan Edwards. The building has burned down a few times, yet the community has remained. The church plays host to a variety of social service agencies and its rooms are often used for musical and artistic acts through the years. It is an integral part of this place.

Last year, however, the roof on the church began crumbling in the sanctuary, and engineers started to notice structural damage to parts of the building. The sanctuary was quickly closed and the entire massive pipe organ was dismantled and put into storage (what an operation that must have been). The cost for repairs? $2 million. Yes, that is two million dollars, much more than the church community can afford on its own.

So, some folks are organizing a huge music concert in early April called Raise the Roof at the nearby Calvin Theater in hopes of raising awareness and earning some money for the project. I had tried to get my band involved but it was too late. My children, however, will grace the stage of the Calvin as part of their children’s choir. (lucky ducks).

My own connection to this church is not quite as strong as the rest of my family. I am not religious, by nature, although I am spiritual.  I fall a bit on the agnostic side of the world (hoping I don’t fall off the edge.) This church is such a wonderful community of caring people and the sermons are always so interesting and insightful such that I always feel at home there.

The music director has allowed me to compose and then produce choral pieces for the choir and pipe organ. I have played my saxophone with the choir, too, on more times than I can remember. The pastor organizes family football games in the winter that are loads of fun. It is a given, and it is accepted, that some kids may cry during the service, and that is just fine for everyone. It is a sign of a healthy congregation, the pastor reminds us. The church even developed an environmental covenant to advocate for respect and responsibility for Earth. These are all things that I adore and love about our church.

Yesterday morning, as I sat through the Easter service, I reminded myself to appreciate this warm and loving community and to support its campaign to “Raise the Roof” and get the sanctuary back up and running. My appreciation of the congregation and its people constitute my slice of life today.

Peace (in spiritual paths),

  1. Good luck to you and your church community, Kevin. Two million is a lot of dollars, but it seems you’re already on the right track with the concert. I’m sure there will be plenty more fun events that will help to raise the needed money.

  2. Sounds like this church was designed just with you in mind. Only 2 million. Compare that to the military budget.
    What happened, you lost your #1 spot.

  3. It’s wonderful that your congregation is so committed to preserving the edifice and it’s great that music will be an instrument (very punny) in the campaign. Great message to the community.

  4. Kevin, can I just tell you how much I enjoy reading your slices each day? There’s always some piece that resonates. Your writing is so easily taken in… I’ve put you on my blogroll and introduced you to my class as a blog to follow. They seem to be enjoying it. Cheers!

  5. In my own journey, I’ve realized that there is a huge difference between being spiritual and being religious. In recent years I have moved away from “religious” (which has presented its on unique set of challenges, as my husband is a minister), but I am more deeply spiritual than I have ever been.

    I know all about raising money for church buildings (we just completed a huge children’s building project), so good luck with that! More importantly, blessings on the spiritual journey…it’s definitely a path worth exploring!

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