New Garden Consecration
On Sunday, July 16th, 2017, Church of the Redeemer gathered for its first normal worship service in its new permanent space in Greensboro, North Carolina. For those of us who had been part of setup and takedown at Western Guilford High School, it came as a huge relief. Many churches in our diocese know the work it takes to meet in rented space; three hours to set up the sanctuary and children’s areas, and an hour and a half to take them back down to store. It was tiring work, so even though the new space had its own issues, it was home.
Ten weeks later, on September 10th, Bp. Steve and Sally worshipped with us in order to consecrate our new space, and throughout the service and celebration, the theme of entry came up again and again. Each service began with the bishop knocking on the door and commanding that the doors be opened, and then he set apart the baptismal font with a special prayer, since it is the entry into the Church. The theme continued with the sermon, as our rector Alan Hawkins began a preaching series on baptism by tracing the imagery of Noah’s ark as a type of the Church through Peter’s epistle, the early Church Fathers, and through church architecture. He concluded with a quote from A.W. Tozer, who summed it up by saying that just as there is one ark and one Church, so there is one door to the ark and one entry into the Church, which is Christ.
Between morning services we had a community hour of celebration and dedication in our greenhouse, during which the bishop addressed us with this charge: the work has only just begun. Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land was a great moment in the history of God’s people, but they still had to take the land and then be faithful stewards of it. Even though we are washed clean at our baptism, we are called for the rest of our lives to allow the Holy Spirit to make us clean. Though we as a church have much cause to celebrate with our entry into a new space, he said, we are called to continue to build it and keep it, and that is a task we will pass on to our children and grandchildren.
The celebration culminated when Jonathan Munyakazi, a deacon in the Gahini diocese of Rwanda and leader of a Greensboro congregation of over 60 Africans who worship in Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili, officially joined the Redeemer parish with his congregation. Now they, too, call the new space home, and they worshipped there that afternoon with Bp. Steve and Alan. Their service will soon be in the space every Sunday afternoon.
It was a great day in the life of our church, and a wonderful time to celebrate. Now the joyous work of building and keeping begins.