Welcome, without Question or Judgement
by Amy Hill
In 40 years, one can store up a lot of memories. And, it is hard to quantify or prioritize which was the best, the funniest, the most glorious.
Services in the high school with Bps. William Grant Black, John McGill Krumm, or Herbert Thompson? June 11, 1991 when the building was consecrated? The red paint on the front door was still wet, and when Bp. Black knocked on the door to open them officially, his crozier left dots on the door. Or the early days of the building, when walking into the church on Sunday morning, the altar was facing a different direction, depending on the location of the overhead truss construction? (Hence the nickname, “St. Flexible.’)
But, one Easter Sunday stood out me. It was either 2002 or 2003. In those days, the service began at 9:30 a.m. Everyone was in their “Easter finery.” Beautiful flowers adorned the altar and the aisle torches were lit. The choir was warming up with a brass quartet and the altar guild was bustling about preparing the table. The ushers were spiffing up the pews and people were coming early to get a good seat. The Sunday school teachers were hiding Easter eggs outside for the children's egg hunt after the service. It was about 9:20, and there were very few pews left, even in the balcony.
The ushers we just beginning to set up a few folding chairs, when a yellow school bus pulled up. Two sisters from the convent of the Transfiguration, located in Glendale, stepped down and came in to look for Fr. Hill. They had a full busload of children from a Native American reservation that was on retreat for their spring break. The children asked if they could attend a festive service even though they had not packed “church” clothes. They asked if there were room for all of them. Of course, there would be room just as quickly as the ushers could set up chairs! The children quietly got off the bus and moved to the added front row chairs. Fr. Hill asked Mother Anne why they chose St. Barnabas in Montgomery, when there were other churches closer to them with larger sanctuaries? Mother Anne replied, “We knew the children would be welcomed here without question or judgement.”
To me, that was the highest compliment that anyone could give our congregation.
May it always be so.