Our memories are selective and pliable. We remember the past in a way that will benefit us in the present and the future. Our brains are predisposed to edit our personal and communal stories so that the resulting narrative, which is likely to change, is concurrent with who we imagine our selves to be right now. This isn’t where I expected to begin when I sat down to reflect on last Friday night’s chartering worship service and celebration. However, I’m committed to keeping it real. Which in this case compels me to admit that the once-in-lifetime experience was, for me, at the same time sweet and sad.
When I recall The Charty with my grandson, Amos Jerman Disasa II, on my lap and tell him about the night DOWNTOWN CHURCH got all growns up I will reference the below:
- I was ten minutes late to the pre-service meeting of the commission. Nobody was surprised.
- The Grand Hall at 701 Whaley was transformed into a sanctuary that was special without being stuffy and beautiful without being prim. The space signaled the uniqueness of the experience it would host, but didn’t confuse our identity.
- Kara Glenn, our new clerk of session (fancy-pants term for someone important), unveiling the charter-roll and petitioning the Presbytery of Trinity to charter DOWNTOWN CHURCH.
- My mentor, teacher, and friend, Noel Schoonmaker proclaiming the gospel and challenging the church to “get our feet wet”.
- Standing at Ellen Skidmore’s side as she baptized six adults each professing their faith publicly for the first time. Interestingly, the baptisms almost got moved to the bathroom because our baptismal bowl was missing for the first twenty minutes of the service.
- The tableau of new ruling elders standing on the platform. Together they looked like DOWNTOWN CHURCH. Together they said yes to God’s call to lead the church through a transition that will shape who we are for many years to come.
- My father (we call him Ababa), installing me as the pastor. As a young boy, I wanted to be him when I grow up. That has not changed.
- My brother, Philipos, owning the dance floor.
- After the service, hugging the patient, diligent, faithful, staff I’m honored to work with (personal touch isn’t my preferred method of communication but I make exceptions).
I like to start things. The official start of DOWNTOWN CHURCH is over. At the beginning we were hustling to turn two quarters into a dollar and communicate a vision for a church that refused to be labeled. We were determined to find the fundamental quality that defined “church” and stay there.
This predisposition to the basic, the simple, the necessary, the gospel, was and still is the most demanding part of our call. But ultimately it defined us. My task was to lead us on this journey of discovery. I’m confident we made it.
And so, Friday night signified the beginning of a new journey and the end of another. The End is the part that makes me sad.