Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Talbot Street Church and progress

AS JON BON Jovi likes to sing, "Who says you can't go back?"

Sheryl and I had a wonderful time in London, Ontario, before the Hart gathering last weekend. I lived in London from 1974 to 1980, and my father was the pastor of the Christian Reformed Church. It's still CRC, and now known as Talbot Street Church.

The neighborhood is completely different. The old homes across the street are gone and replaced by luxury high rise apartments and a gleaming bank building. What used to be a lawyer's office next door is now a pub. And the church showed vision and guts by constructing an incredible atrium addition a few years ago. Also new are offices and parking behind and beside the church.

Modernised CRC church
My father once asked his consistory members to consider buying an old house behind the church to prepare for expansion. They said, "We are not in the Real Estate business." Now he laughs about it. He was right and onto something, and it only took another 30 plus years.

The atrium is part of the church's outreach program for the destitute and homeless. They also bought a house beside the atrium for the Sanctuary program. Somebody realized the church isn't just a building, it's a part of the community, and people aren't just going to walk up the steps. Hmmmm .... revolutionary!

My youngest sister, Charys, met us in London with her family and we simply walked in late Thursday morning to check it out. Heather Fieten, the Ministry Coordinator, took us on a tour and she's rightfully proud of the church. When I introduced myself, Heather said, "I know you. We were in grade 9 together." She remembered my mother, who taught at the Christian high school.

The inside was redone a few years ago - gone are the awful "penalty boxes" on either side, and the front area is simpler and roomier. The pews were removed, refurbished, and put back with loving care. The building retains its 1881 charm, with a modern feel. It was the first time in 35 years I'd been it, yet it seemed like yesterday.

Kneeling Bench, Pulpit and Baptismal Font
In a back room are the original pulpit and baptismal font. The stories they could tell, right? Everything behind the sanctuary was torn down and replaced with offices. The basement retains the basic look, with the same wooden floor we played hockey on and ran around during our Cadets days. I think one of the metal poles still has a dent from the time I rammed into it head-first.

On one of the front doors a chain remains to keep the door open. Charys and I laughed when seeing it. Funny, what you remember.

Some of the members are still active in the church. I told Heather to say hello. The place we grew up has grown up and is modern. But we still remember and our memories come flooding back. Thank God it's not a parking lot.

I had overwhelming memories of my late mother and late brother when walked around the church, then later when we went down to the old Riverside Drive house and walked around the Thames Valley Golf Course area. We crossed the Thames River passenger bridge and walked past the creek, our old playgrounds on hot summer days.

Much love to the old church and its members. It was so good to go back.

No comments:

Post a Comment