Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You (sometimes)

I stopped by the architecturally inviting church, thinking that if I ever change my official residence I might like to attend there. I had been to the other Episcopal church in the city, and only one person there came to say hello. Even when I went downstairs for coffee, I was ignored.

So, I thought I might try church #2.

I rang the bell on the intercom system (once I finally found the church office door), and the response was much like the Charlie Brown "wah-wah-wah-wah-wah" that we hear on Chuck's great pumpkin special on tv. Announcing that I didn't understand, I got the "Wah's" again - and yet again on the 3rd try. On the 4th and final attempt, I said that I'd like to look at the church. I was admitted with the faint hum of the lock responding to the finger inside that was pushing the OPEN DOOR button.

Following the signs whose arrows pointed to the office, I found an open door on the 2nd floor. I was greeted by a harried secretary who informed me that on the intercom system she was saying what any normal person would say: "May I help you?" Before I could respond with an apology for my ears that couldn't make out her "Wah's", she quickly informed me that she had an appointment at 3 o'clock and that she was late and had to leave and that the church was dark and that she would turn on some lights and that she didn't need to turn on all the lights because it was light enough and it wasn't but she just turned on the entrance lights. Whew! Listening to all that made me tired. My exact thoughts at that moment? If the Interim Rector at St. Peter's Church in Ashtabula heard our secretary greet someone in that manner, there would be some serious ass-kicking going on.

Back in the office, from behind her protective barrier counter she turned to the priest and announced to the good Father that we had a visiting Senior Warden who would like to see the church, ignoring that I had said I might be looking for a part-time church home. The priest, an Interim Rector, waved and informed me that he was talking to the treasurer and that I could look around. My friend, Enrique, who was accompanying me on that day and I went into the dimly lighted church and tried to figure out what was what. Oh, the carved pews and the choir and the stained glass and the ornate pulpit were spectacular, but there was not a feeling of anything but carved pews and the choir and the stained glass and the ornate pulpit. I was even more convinced that this was not a place I would like to have as my church home - or even as a place to visit on a pass though the city.

We went back to the office to say our goodbyes. The priest remained seated, talking still with the treasurer (who I never saw). The tenor of the conversation changed a bit when the priest found out that I was the Senior Warden at St. Peter's Church in Ashtabula, but I was not invited back nor informed about church services or made to feel welcome or wanted in any way.

While I was bidding my farewells, the secretary (still there and still late for her appointment) asked my friend Enrique if he had turned out the lights. He went back into the sanctuary and appropriately, as he turned out the lights, got an electrical shock when he pushed the off button.

God works in mysterious ways.