My church did it. My church finally decommissioned it’s pews this past Sunday and moved them on to an Alliance church in Ensenada, Mexico. One second they were there and the next second they were on a UHaul hauled off with a pat on the back and a smile from some of my Mexican brothers. Then i was left in an empty sanctuary. The marks were left on the carpet, the deacon pews were still around, and a stack of new chairs sat in the hallway ready for work.I didn’t think it would affect me much but as I looked into the sanctuary I understood why some of my older people were having such a hard time with the idea. I understood why it took years of preparation to lead up to this moment. It had everything to do with the memories. I hear what people always say in this day and age: Doesn’t it matter which helps reach the lost more? Sure it does. Doesn’t it matter which makes the sanctuary more flexible? Sure it does. Doesn’t it matter which are safer? Sure it does. But it’s still hard because of the shadows that linger. I hear what the older say: A church should have pews. They are more distinguished. They hold the hymnals, bibles, and envelopes. Sure, sure, and sure. But I know what it’s about now. I get it. It’s about the memories.
That’s where old Clyde used to sit and shake his cane at me. That’s where Arlene used to sit and warmly smile as I nervously clung to my notes and read my manuscript praying that it was what God wanted me to say that week. That’s where old Marv used to sit and zing me from the crowd. That’s where Edna sat and listened because she couldn’t see me. Over there is where Gary and Vickie used to sit back in the wonder years of their marriage. Heck that’s where I sat when i heard Dr. Porter preach the first time. That’s the pew that I saw my oldest peek over as a baby. That one over there is the one she used to sleep in. They were my friends the night before my wedding as I kneeled in the darkness praying to God for a happy marriage. They were witnesses to the vows I made to my wife. Though they were rickety and occasionally would fall apart, they served for longer than I have been alive. It’s the memories.That’s why I let me originals vote and though they chose to go with the new chairs that God had blessed us with for the remarkable price of …. free. It was still hard to see them go. So thank you God for the future but thank you God also for the past and those rickety old pews that served our church well. May they continue to serve and help carry many of the lost in Mexico to your kingdom one day.