Last night, several folks from Cornell (myself included) gathered at the Blackstone building which has been closed now since Christmas Eve. Our task was to begin going through all the rooms, the cabinets, the kitchen, and seeing if there was anything that could possibly be used at the Cornell Church. We were in a bit of a hurry, because someone was showing great interest in purchasing the building. We loaded up the obvious, the altar, the communionware, the candlesticks. But then there was the not so obvious. We started going through books in the cabinets. I found and kept a Methodist Book of Discipline from 1964, four years before we became The United Methodist Church. We found financial records from the 1960’s the catalogued the generosity of this once thriving church. We found film strips, which natrually led to the finding of an antique film strip projector (the kind that can only be operated by hand). We found so many “treasures” that we filled up two trucks and a trailor.
As we were preparing to pull out of Blackstone and take our convoy to Cornell to unload, I went back into the sanctuary to start turning the lights off. That’s when it hit me. The church was one “treasure” that we could not pack up and take with us. The beautiful little church out in the middle of nowhere couldn’t fit in our trailor. I gazed over the altar area and the solid oak pews. I noticed the way the lights hit the stained glass. At the moment, I became aware of what Blackstone UMC had been about for over 130 years and what would now be missing. I knew the building will never be used as a house of worship again, and I suppose thats not our business once a sale is complete. But in that moment, I became painfully aware that this particular house of divine worship was through; it was the last time any of us would be in that church together as a body of Christians. It took my breath away. I felt God’s presence surround me standing in the back of that sanctuary for the last time and I cried.
Why does it only take a moment to say hello, but forever to say goodbye? That was the question I posed througout the last Sunday morning worship service, but the question never meant so much to me as it did last night. It seems like just yesterday I stepped into that church with big ideas, and at that moment it looked so empty. I didn’t want to say goodbye, I still don’t. I shed a tear last night, because I know that I’ll always miss that little church.
Here is a video slideshow that I put together for the last service, so you too can see the beauty of this little church: