There's a lot of chapel talk in our church right now, and I don't mean prayer. Several of the long time members have become quite upset to see their beautiful chapel without the pews. And since the information about what the plans are for the chapel has been slow getting out, they've done what humans always do, fill in the blank spaces with their own assumptions.
So I've spent a lot of time over the past three days talking with "concerned" people. In the first place, I'm glad they're concerned. That means they are passionate about their church, even if we disagree on the particulars. But it is tiring, especially with all the work going into our big Welcome Sunday.
Overall, as I've explained the possibilities of use, clarified that we are changing the seating but not "doing away" with the chapel, and assured them that if none of this works out in several months, our architect has said the pew seating can be restored to its former glory, the folk have generally offered to be patient and see how it works out - even though they pointedly let me know they don't like the beauty of their chapel compromised.
Change is difficult and exhausting. It is surprising however, and encouraging to see the excitement on a lot of faces as we talk about the kinds of worship services we can hold in the chapel. Even if the pews eventually go back in, the controversy will have at least gotten people thinking about how and whether the chapel is being used, and hopefully considering how they could be using it for outreach. As long as people maintain respect for one another, conflict can keep us from getting stuck in our ways.
After a busy day of visiting and then a Family Night Supper that called for me to speak to a large group about the changes, I was ready to head home last night to my ice cream :)! But I had to meet with the choir about the music for this Sunday. They wanted me to hear the anthem I'd requested they prepare for this Sunday, The Majesty and Glory of Your Name. I sat in the sanctuary, and in listening to them sing, felt grace enveloping my heart. What a gift in the midst of stress!
Wow. I still don't understand how our choir of about 20 can sound like double that number. But what a joy to be lifted by the music from the pressure cooker, to peek at the glory of God. I do pray that whatever we do with the chapel, or anything else we have for that matter, that we can help others gain a similar glimpse of God's glory and grace.