To outsiders (and even, sometimes, to ourselves) all this begins to look like the church equals the building and we make it pretty so we can sit in it and enjoy the beauty. All that, of course, misses the point on two levels. For one thing, we would be the church if we lost all our buildings and had to worship, as early Christians did, in private homes with the doors locked. For another, the ultimate audience for our singing and worship is not ourselves, but God. A beautiful stained glass window is quite pleasant, but really it's there to say something about God, and the whole operation is to please him. (Note to self: Try to remember this the next time a fellow congregation member is singing his/her heart out on a hymn I don't like and doing it badly. If God likes it, my opinion doesn't count for much.)
History of our buildingOne day, I would like to write a definitive history of that A-frame building. This isn't it, but from what I've heard, St. Matthew's Parish was a going, growing operation in the 1960s. We bought a lot of land out on the edge of town and wanted a building fast, so we went for three pre-fabs (the sanctuary, the parish hall, and the education wing). This explains a lot of the choices in materials and furnishings. After a while, it became clear that the building would not be a five-year temporary, so generous donors provided the stained glass windows and pipe organ.
The congregation declined in numbers for a lot of reasons, so that by the time Rev. Kay arrived attendance was around a dozen. (We are in the 40s now.) With a congregation that small, a lot of important things got put on the back burner, including building maintenance. That's why, when we began planning the Capital Campaign, we had to focus on things like the roof ("Won't make it through another winter" said our contractor.) and exterior paint ("You haven't painted this in how long?"). Next up is the asbestos floor tile in the parish hall—tiles like this have not been made since 1986, and they had a typical service life of 30–40 years. Ours is obviously a lot older than 1986.