Monday, March 14, 2016

Lessons learned...there is life after death

This blog is an ongoing series about the lessons that I am learning in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. To start from the beginning, read my first post.

Lesson #3: There is life after death

That first year, when people asked what I was up to I would say "I quit my job and started a church in a funeral home." This is obviously an oversimplification of events as you can read in my first post but the truth was a little bit harder than that.

My favorite Holy Holder with my daughter
The split felt a little bit like a death in the family.
Old St. Andrew's had been my church for five years, I had worked there for two, and both of my children were baptized there. These were the people that Wendy Barrie calls the "holy holders" that had helped raise my children. They were my son's friends, my mom friends, and had seen my potential and raised me up as a leader in the church before I realized that is what I needed to do with my life. I don't dislike them, I am not mad at them, and on most things we don't even disagree. We still see each other in the grocery store, our children go to the same schools, and a few of them still babysit for me.

The first home of The Episcopal Church on Edisto
At this point, I was working my way between the denial and depression stages of grief. I have been looking back at my pictures from the first months after the split and there just aren't many. I shut down a bit and just did what needed to happen day to day for us to survive. But the new worship group needed me to keep moving and find a bigger home. We had been worshiping in Mother Jean's living and dining room for a few weeks. It was a little crowded and the parking wasn't ideal but we were glad to be together. We had the basics and a lot of help from our friends (more on that in the next post). Next step was to find a public place where we could hold a weekly worship service. 

We were not the first to blaze this trail in South Carolina. Groups had already formed in Conway, Edisto, Florence, and Summerville. They were able to give us parts of the road map about where to go. Edisto was meeting in a Barbecue Restaurant that they nicknamed St. Bo-Bo's. Others were meeting in churches that had lent space and one group was about to start meeting on a dock. We called churches, restaurants, community rooms at retirement homes, neighborhood clubhouses and schools with no luck. And then we called the funeral home.

Funeral homes are great for churches. They have a chapel, extra rooms that could be used for Sunday School, and are usually available on Sunday morning. The first one was all gung-ho and then pulled out when we were going to meet with them. Then we called Stuhr's Funeral Home. They had a fairly new chapel within a couple of miles of our old church on a major thoroughfare. They welcomed us with open arms including not charging us any fees to meet there. They saw this as their outreach to the community.

Stuhr's chapel
Our first Sunday there was Easter Sunday. We had 50 people in a funeral home to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I mean really, you can not write a better script than that. We were showing what it means to be resurrection people, people that live on the other side of the cross, not in sin and suffering but in serving the world. This was when I was able to see that there would be life after death. We were going to be a viable group that could move forward.

There are some downsides to the funeral home. One, not everyone feels comfortable there but most do after trying a service The biggest downside is having to move Sunday School because there is a funeral after church. I joke that I am the only Sunday School teacher in America that has to deal with dead bodies on a Sunday morning. 
Church in the parking lot
We are about to celebrate our third year at Stuhr's on Easter Sunday. Yesterday we had 17 people under the age of 18 in church and we built a church in the parking lot as part of our acolyte training. I can see life everyday now and am glad to be living it.

1 comment:

  1. It is a motivational post. Indeed there is life after death in some form or the other. Death does not mean end of life but it is end of something. it is a good post.