It was on a Sunday in July of 1867 that 14 men and women gathered to worship in the home of Mrs. Catherine Hornbaker, not far from what are now the Fairgrounds. They became the foundation of Manassas Presbyterian Church. Others joined that first group, one here, two there, the community growing by word of mouth. Within 10 years, the community had outgrown the shed they had purchased for a worship space. Plans were made to construct the building that still stands in Old Town.
Were we to travel back in time and participate in a worship service from those formative years, we’d find things not all that different from today. Certainly the biggest difference would have been the length of the service – worship would have lasted more than 2 hours, and the pews would not have been upholstered, nor, as we head into summer, would the Sanctuary have been air-conditioned!
Still, we have much on common with our ancestors in faith, not least of which is reaching out to others with an invitation to join our community. Even with all the technology we have today that makes communication easy, inexpensive and instantaneous, the best way to spread the word about our church is word of mouth – telling your neighbors and friends.
I recently put together a fact-sheet for our Stewardship Committee and our Elders highlighting what a wonderful church we have. It is easy to overlook all the good things happening here.
We have an extraordinary music program; anyone of any age can find a place to “make a joyful noise to the Lord”. We have a deep commitment to learning as we seek to grow not just in knowledge, but in wisdom. Our Youth programs are in a word, amazing.
We have one the best preschools in the County. It is always such a joy for me to hear parents praise the school, and in particular, our talented, dedicated teachers.
We have a beautiful campus that we are happy to make available to outside groups such as Beacon, Girl Scouts, support groups, and others. Our building is a bustling, busy place every day of the week, even in the heat of summer.
Most important, we are a community that gathers each Sunday to worship, pray, praise, sing, and learn. We gather in community in much the same way the first 14 gathered, called by the Spirit to grow in Christ.
Anne Lamott has written, “in church we live in community – in shared loss and hope”, or, as wedding vows remind us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want. We cannot worship the Lord alone; we come together to be together, just as the very first followers did 2,000 years ago: They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
To God be the Glory!