History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Heaven help us" when noise disrupts at church

First Lutheran Church, Morris MN
I attended church at First Lutheran Sunday (8/10), which prompts me to share the following passage from the Maurice Faust book, "Remember, no electricity!"
We did not go to church as a family because of the younger siblings in the family. Mama did not believe in taking a baby to church - they gained nothing from the service and kept others from total participation. Another big reason was that Father from the pulpit or altar would not hesitate to look at a frustrated mother and say, "Can't you keep that child quiet?"
These infants are a wonderful gift from God, no doubt, and I don't blame anyone for wanting to celebrate their presence. However, some people are in church to try to be enriched by what is said from the front of the sanctuary. Those needs and desires need to be respected also.
I faintly remember that as a preschool child, in St. Paul, we attended a church with accommodations for families with potentially noisy kids. I was probably one of them. There was a section at the back of the sanctuary with a glass panel in front. First Lutheran in Morris would benefit from this.
First Lutheran would seem to have drawbacks with its design. Obviously it was designed in the days before "handicapped accessibility." So was our old school, the one torn down not long ago. It's not that our society didn't care about handicapped people. I suppose we felt that special, separate accommodations could be made for them. Eventually the philosophy took hold that we must help those individuals feel like part of the mainstream. Instead of family or friends lifting a wheelchair up over a curb, the curb could be sloped so the handicapped person could handle it alone.
First Lutheran has steps and stairs all over the place. It's essentially split-level. You enter in front and have to decide: go up or down? The only ground floor place is the entry on the east where the elevator is located. The elevator was added when handicapped awareness reached a point where it was a necessity. It was a problem for First Lutheran because I guess it could not be installed close to the sanctuary. First Lutheran had no choice, I'm told, but to install it way over on the east end, next to the parking lot. This leaves a considerable distance between the elevator and sanctuary, whereas at Assumption Church (the Catholic church), you're in the sanctuary, the front in fact, when you step out of the elevator.
Faith Lutheran Church on the west side of town is 180 degrees from First in terms of its accessibility for people who are either handicapped or challenged for walking. Remember, we have an aging population. Medical science has given us this miracle, but it comes with the rather substantial challenge of seeing that people are accommodated for their limitations or weaknesses. Heck, I'll be 60 years old next year! It's a myth that us boomers never age.
Faith Lutheran has no steps or stairs whatsoever, not even at the entrance. Logically it should be our church, given that my mother is 90 years of age, but she has belonged to First Lutheran since we came to Morris over 50 years ago.
At First Lutheran, the men's restroom is on one floor, the women's on the other! I guess they've added a unisex restroom also.
It can be hard for people seated toward the back of the sanctuary to see what's going on in front. One might suggest that a sanctuary be designed so that seats in back are higher than those in front.
I'm not sure a full-fledged pipe organ is needed in our new tech age, an age that would have a simple electronic keyboard and a couple tiny speakers produce a very full sound.
When I was a kid, an usher would greet you at the sanctuary entrance and guide you to a suggested seating spot. The usher would be a male pillar of the community, dressed in suit and tie. Today you are merely handed some literature for that day, then you simply choose a spot. Lots of seating is usually available.
Author Maurice Faust remembers from his youth how families actually had reserved spots among the pews, for which specific payment was made. BTW his memories are concentrated from the '30s and '40s, and originated from Pierz MN. The book was written some time ago. I'll quote again:
Before starting first grade, we always sat with a parent and always in the same pew. Parishioners were assigned a specific bench and therefore were expected to use it. Rent charged for the assigned bench was based on the number of adults in the family and the desirability of the reserved spot for worship. Pews with a post were cheaper than those without. In our church there are two benches that have a post at each end. Our pew, because it had an obstruction at each end, was one of the cheaper ones. It was also far from the front under the choir loft.
Being this far from the front of the big church, I could only see the backs of people in front of me. I could not understand the liturgy - it was in Latin. I did, however, enjoy hearing the big choir. Trying to figure out how the ceiling over the nave of the church was held in place was my primary concern.
The passing of the offering plates bothers me a little. The practice seems a little archaic. Why can't church members just be expected to make a quarterly contribution? The plates seem akin to groveling. The church picks up some spare change from people who may not be regular members. There is nothing to prevent non-members from attending a service. Even if they aren't paying, they are probably helping the church by filling space to give the impression of vitality for the church. There are some Sundays when we need it. Such "freeloaders" are thus like "shills" in a casino (playing with house money).
I'll share some more from Faust's book:
Taking up the offertory collection was a bit of a break during Mass. Our church at that time did not have ushers, so the collecting of offerings was done by the parish trustees. Because trustees were elected to an indefinite term we saw the same two men pass the collection basket Sunday after Sunday for many years. Weekly offerings by the faithful during those hard times were very meager. The primary sources of income for the parish came from pew rent. People took their obligation seriously and responded with almost total compliance. The financial report of the Church of St. Joseph, Pierz, Minnesota for the year of 1934 showed $1,510.80 total plate collections. The amount for pew rent in 1934 showed receipts of $6,183.25.
All the parish buildings at that time were heated with wood. Parishioners hard-pressed financially were given the option of bringing in firewood in lieu of hard cash. In 1934, $386.75 worth of wood was brought in, and this was the total spent for the year to heat the church, school, parish house and convent.
I don't know if Faust's book, "Remember, No Electricity!" is still available, but I recommend it. His approach toward journalism is just like mine. We think it's important to remember all the little things. We think it's important to note generational contrasts, the different ways each generation responds to stimuli around it. I will quote once more from the book, this time a passage that should leave you smiling:
A fellow confessed that he ate hamburger on Friday. The confessor told him hamburger is meat and therefore not allowed. For his penance the man was told to bring a load of wood to the parish. A few days later the man arrived at the church with a load of sawdust. Father told the man, "You were supposed to bring a load of wood." The fellow replied, "Father, if hamburger is meat, sawdust is wood."
I'm rather discouraged by the fact our First Lutheran pastor, Paul Erdal, is leaving. It shouldn't be happening. It's only happening because his wife Stacey was forced to seek a new teaching job, and this is happening only because another teacher chose to come back from an extended leave, defying the expectations of most.
Pastor Erdal gave a wonderful speech for my father's funeral. He was available to come to the hospital on the night my father suddenly passed away. I will never forget those moments when he recited important scriptural stuff.
It is very nice that the street in front of First Lutheran finally got re-paved. That was a belated step, but it's nice now.
Frankly, I think the best thing for Morris ELCA Lutherans would be one nice new big church, designed according to all the current standards. It could be on the outskirts of town with a big paved parking lot. Of course, anyone can be committed to Christianity or any other faith without going to a building once a week.
The Morris Community Church has moved into the building where I had my office for 27 years. That's the old Morris Sun Tribune building. I don't know why those parishioners can't just come over to First Lutheran which is a stone's throw away.
I think the Morris Community Church was created in a time when my generation was jaded and skeptical about the traditional mainstream denominations. Young people today probably wouldn't know what I'm talking about, but that air of resignation and skepticism was very real at one time. We saw those old churches as too detached from the issues of the day - too staid. The Morris Community Church with Neil Thielke at the forefront had a more organic, sincere feel about it, in the eyes of many.
An organization called "Young Life" was created for Morris youth, separate from the old denominations. Young people weren't all that interested in "Luther League" or its counterparts anymore. All this was a phase our nation passed through. It may seem an odd historical curiosity now. Today the traditional denominations forge ahead.
We never know what the future will bring.
(Pastor Franey at Morris Community Church should know that the names of deities were intoned many times at the old Sun Tribune building, but not in a context he would approve of.)
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

No comments:

Post a Comment