History was made in Richmond this past Sunday. It was the first service for Open Door United Methodist Church. Open Door is a new church with very old roots, born of the merger between El Cerrito United Methodist Church (where I’ve been attending mostly since I moved here) and Good Shepherd United Methodist Church.
El Cerrito UMC was founded with the City of El Cerrito as the home of the first Sunday school in the area. I don’t know much about the history of Good Shepherd UMC other than that its old letterhead proclaims it to be an Inter-racial community of faith. That makes me think it was founded sometime in the 60s.
The Good Shepherd church building, which is now the building for Open Door, is beautiful and was built by the people of Good Shepherd. It’s two floors, upstairs being the sanctuary and a small office and downstairs being the fellowship hall, kitchen and a small playroom. It’s a peaceful, rustic wood with stone accents and lots of stained glass windows depicting church stuff and the history of Richmond. Each side of the sanctuary is floor-to-ceiling clear windows. To the right, a view overlooking the Bay; to the left, an indoor garden with trees and lots of greenery.
The first service was wonderful; the pews were very full. The two churches had been worshiping together for awhile already so the faces were all already familiar. The service began with praising and ended with dancing.
There was one new element introduced today, pew sign-in books. They’re red books were each person in the pew puts their name, address and email and then checks the appropriate “member,” “visitor,” etc. box. My mommy’s church has red pew sign-in books very similar to these. I was excited. Munchkinhead and I always enjoy drawing little pictures in the check boxes. I drew a kitty face today.
The sign-in books will take some adjustment for the congregation. Lots of people tried to hand the books off to the row behind them instead of passing them back down their own pew. We’re not used to having things only go down one pew. Usually, what we’re passing around are clipboards with sign-up sheets for church events and volunteer opportunities. They start at the front of the church and are passed from there, arriving at the back pews already full.
I think people will get the hang of the new books soon. It’s a pretty small adjustment for such a big occasion.