Enough time has gone by since Holy Innocents closed that I think I can now deal with telling the story of the last 2 services held there. There aren’t many photos, because I was struggling with the settings on the camera and also because much of the time, I was holding either a hymnal or the Book of Common Prayer.
Christmas Eve was pretty but… it’s already faded into a sort of mish-mosh of previous years. However, a couple of things stand out. First, someone forgot to clue Fr. Steve in on using the little hand-candles for a candlelit portion, usually centered on singing “Silent Night.” We didn’t even sing “Silent Night,” let alone use the hand-candles. And the choices of hymns wasn’t up to our usual standard, either. Then I realized that the person who usually did that was one of the ones that’s declared they
won’t be coming along to “St Nicholas with the Holy Innocents,” and that someone else had stepped in to choose hymns and do the bulletin. There was a little buffet afterwards, and lots of people stood around visiting. We had a pretty good crowd, at least. But I left feeling a little… spiritually underinflated. It was the first Christmas since losing Mom, too, so there was that. I didn’t even bother putting up a Christmas tree or decorating, other than collecting holiday cards on the mantlepiece and lighting
candles a few evenings. It was a very meh-y Christmas for me, although we did have a lot of fun earlier in the evening at Mitch and Gloria’s house, making our own pizzas.
The closing service (or “Farewell Liturgy” as I termed it) was really, really good though. Here’s the final dismissal:
I chose this image from just afterward because everyone is smiling and applauding. The one of the moment after the dismissal is a little blurry, but you can still see how a couple of people are fighting to maintain their composure.
Full house, almost; but then, it was another one of those “single service” Sundays when our numbers were swelled by the St Nicholas people. Great music. We had Kris Abel, our first-string and favorite “guest organist,” and the builder of the organ and his partner were also there to add a little polish to the musical offerings. Robert, the builder, lives in Madison. He’s a relatively young guy, so he must have been just out of college or grad school when he built the organ. We’re hoping the diocese will agree
to let him take whatever parts he wants, as he’s built another organ… at his house!… as a practice instrument.
After “the big finish,” Robert played the final postlude, an arrangement we’d made with Kris’ full support. Then there was a reception downstairs, and some people started packing up the treasures almost immediately. Early in this process, I heard the organ playing and went back into the sanctuary to find a small crowd around the console, with Robert playing a warm-up piece.
Then they started singing favorite hymns. I grabbed my camera and my hymnal.
A few of the people in the shot are people who left last year, just after Easter, or was it the year before? They used to be deeply involved in choir and acolyte/altar party stuff. I was glad to see them, but struggled like others to keep my mouth shut about Touchy Questions. Such as “why exactly did you leave? Would we still be closing if you were here? And now that the likely reason you left is no longer an issue, why didn’t you come back?”
Yeah. I’ve spoken to someone who was so angry about how people drifted away in the last year that she didn’t feel that we should make sure that invitations to the closing service should even be sent out to people on the ‘inactive’ address list, but I don’t think she really feels that way anymore. It’s a process.
I spent some time downstairs at the reception, and then came upstairs to find that trucks had been backed up to the church door, and the larger “treasures” were already in, covered up, padded, and ready to go. They’ve since been installed in new places of honor at SNWTHI (yes, it’s a mouthful to say AND to type) and I have to say, they look very nice in their new home.
I started working in the sacristy, boxing up glassware and Eucharist items to go over that afternoon. After about an hour, I came out and was shocked to see how the entire sanctuary had been cleared out; whole sections of the chairs were corralled off so that they could be either stored, donated to a former vicar, or given to the Diocese. Most of the “treasures” were down and packed, although a few had given trouble. One parishioner was banging away at this Celtic cross, trying to remove it from the wall:
Earlier, the altar had looked like this (this photo was actually taken last year:
About 90 minutes or so after the end of the service, it looked like this:
Fortunately, there is a lot of cause for hope. We got word this week that the Diocese has approved the immediate purchase of a brand new Allen digital organ. I don’t know which model, and I don’t know if we’re getting the least expensive digital, or a pipe/digital hybrid that fits our space, or something in-between. Our new music director, who has stated that she’d like to come back in the next life as a boy soprano at Christ Church,
Oxford or some other great Anglican choir school, has already mapped out what we’ll be singing through Easter (Joy! Rapture!) and has a pretty good idea what we’ll be doing for… Christmas 2007. Also, she’s bringing some “ringers” with her from her former place.
Reports from Steve on how the rest of the meeting went were very, very positive. Both bishops love us and hope the best for us, and think we’re poised to make great strides, now that we’ve combined our strengths. Truth be told, we’re shedding some weaknesses, especially from the Holy Moly side. We’re learning to have faith, dream big, and dare to try.
We’re starting 2007 in pretty good shape, financially. The next steps are to sell a couple of pieces of property, which will finance an addition on to St Nicholas (and Fr. Steve is still determined to recreate the Holy Innocents worship space. I think in the next life he wants to come back as an architect).
That reminds me, I’ve got some emails to send to press people regarding the food pantry. More later.