Coming Home

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

-- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

The last time we worshipped in our sanctuary was Sunday, February 12, 2017. Now, after a long journey of more than three years, we are ready to come back into that sacred space again. It's the same room, of course—yet very, very different. Sunlight streams in through the windows. Seats are arranged in more of a fan shape so we can see each other better from across the room. There's a lighter color to the space. Wider aisles. The sound and lighting will be better, too. Oh, and the organ—like you have never heard it before.

It must certainly be the loveliest church building in our city.

I am beyond excited! Most days I go in and sit on one of the pews for a while, thinking and praying about all that we are going to be able to do with this space. Preparing my heart for the future.

I am exceedingly grateful to God for what He has entrusted to us, and for how He has blessed us through this adventure. And grateful to you, too. For your faithfulness and patience during this project (one made more difficult because of the pandemic). Your financial stewardship has been inspiring as we are setting out to pay for this facility—and continue our missions and programming giving, too.

We have had a good time in the FAC. Buildings almost inevitably shape a church, and this time in the activities center has made us a more relaxed, open congregation. We will be taking with us the best of our FAC experience: A more informal feel, and greater accessibility. When you walk into the sanctuary you will immediately see a warmer, more welcoming look (but without food and drinks brought in). You will see better than ever before, and the seats will be a bit more comfortable, too. Oh, and the organ...

A special Dedication Day will be held at some point in the future, when the virus is gone and more people feel like they can attend. But I want to extend special thanks now to our tireless Building Committee Chairman, Jason Mori, and those who serve on his team: Tim Bailey, Anna Bennett, Jerry Heilbronner, Laing Hinson, Rick Kitchens, Bob Redding, Adam Stenberg, Patti Wells, Stephanie Angle, Karen Kelly, Kris Meyers, and Erin Rexroth.

Also, to the Capital Stewardship Committee current and former members: Chad Moutray, chairman, Dee Buchanan, Sara Butler, Vicky Jordan, Larry Meyers, Barbara Ritzert, Beth Spivey, Matt Szramoski, Mitch Waldman, Charlie Black, Jennifer Kelly, John Kirby, Tricia Ritchie, Jessica Taylor, and Mark White.

And we certainly could not have finished this project without the ever-present guidance of Sam Moneyhun and Archie Doering!

They still have a big job ahead of them!

One regret in all of this is that we will not see the sanctuary filled to capacity on this opening day. We are still following the protocols of recent weeks, and social distancing means that there has to be a lot of empty seats. We definitely have more room to fill now, but that's going to be a challenge even after the pandemic is over. A re-gathering of large crowds like we had in the old days is going to take a while, as many folks have developed new Sunday morning habits. I hope we have not lost a sense of the importance of worshipping together (Hebrews 10:25-26). No amount of streaming and zooming can ever replace that.

Yes, we are coming back—coming home—to the sanctuary at First Baptist Alexandria this Sunday. It may be time for you to think seriously about coming home, too.

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