Interior design has never been my strong point. I don’t really think of myself as an ‘artistic’ person in the sense of pictures, spatial awareness or the ability to convey meaning through visual stimuli. My strong point is words. I see and think in words. I adore words.
But over the past four years as we have been involved in the purchase and renovation and refurbishment of St Mark’s as it changed into Goldthorpe Pentecostal Community Church, I have found visual things coming to the fore. Mark’s idea when we first looked round the building was to have a ‘photo gallery’ in the corridor, charting the progress of the restoration work. That took a lot of time and effort and you can read about that here.
I was very familiar with working with other people’s ideas and translating them into reality; that’s part of an administrator’s job all the time. I was quite unprepared to be struck by the need for photographs of Goldthorpe when we embarked on our prayer walks last January so that we had a visual record of what we were doing in the church building.As I shared that vision with the leadership of the church, they were very supportive and so the visual record in the main hall was created.
Then came a more unexpected idea because it was not quite as ‘concrete’ as the previous ones. I wanted a visual record of the people in the church and the ministries they serve. This would take the form of a ‘notice board’ (except instead of notices, it would have photos of people.) Originally, I envisaged the photos simply being hung on the walls, rather like the photos which were already there.
But that idea soon blossomed. During a brief stay in Derbyshire in November, we wandered into an art exhibition, mainly to get out of the rain. There, we were captivated by a picture of light shining forth. The artist was there and she was overjoyed to find someone interested in her art. I asked her what had inspired the painting and she said it came out of a period when a friend of hers was in darkness and she was doing her best to help her and that was represented by light shining forth. For me, the painting perfectly represented John 1:5 TNIV – ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’
We bought the painting and as I considered where we would put it, another verse came to mind: ‘You are the light of the world.’ (Matt 5:14-16 TNIV) Suddenly I saw the two things connected: this painting representing Christ’s light shining in our world, even when our world seems very dark, and the team ministries our church is involved in being ministries of light, as we are His light, called to reflect His light into our communities. As Garry put it, we are here ‘with God in the community, with God for the community.’
That is the back story of the notice board. I find it mildly ironic that I, who love words above everything, should have become so fond of visual aids. I am also well aware that for most people, what they see in a church building may seem rather random and unplanned. When reading Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Pastor’, I learned of his church’s transition from a basement building to a new build church. The chapter ‘Bezalel’ tells the tale of a God-inspired architect and a people who wanted everything that could be seen and touched in their new building to reflect the spiritual truths they were assimilating as a congregation. I smiled when I read that chapter, for I think that is often how it is. What we see is not random or unplanned. There is often a story behind it. This is the story behind the new notice board.