There is always a first time for everything. This past Sunday was a first time for us to go to church and find no one there. (I remember when I went to church once and the door was locked. I soon found out that it was really Saturday, not Sunday, so I went back home.)
But last week was different. George and I drove in the church driveway to a totally vacant parking lot. We realized we had missed church the week before, because of being ill, so missed out on what ever was going on. We headed back home, and on the way, George asked me where I would like to go.
In a second’s time, I said I would like to visit the First Presbyterian church in Delaware.
My reason was that I had grown up going to that church and have often thought about going back to visit there. I had only been back inside of it twice in the last 60 years. Once to a wedding and the other was when the public was invited to sing along with the choir when they sang the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
So, we headed for Delaware and arrived right on time. We noticed some of the people going in a side door, and when George suggested that we follow them, I said that they were in the choir and go that way to get to the choir loft, and we needed to go to the front door. But, I was wrong, they were on their way to an elevator that had been added since I had left there. Someone came and invited us to use the elevator, too. We entered the sanctuary from the front and were given a program and settled in for some of my memories to take over.
“Growing up there” meant my years from seventh grade through two years after high school. Getting to sing in the choir meant that I always got to sit in the choir loft.
The memory of the Christmas Eve services filled my brain. Back in the 50s, Mrs. Peeples was the organist as well as the choir director. And on Christmas Eve, when the program upstairs was over, she put together a party for the choir on the lower floor where the Sunday school classes met. She always transformed the entire large room by having lighted candles on all the tables. The places to sit had lovely glass place settings. Along with a lot of other good food, she served what she called “Figgy Pudding.” I never have found out what it was, but it was really good!
Over the many years I went to that church, I served at a lot of dinners down there, but it never was as lovely as when it was lit with candles for our choir’s Christmas parties.
After last Sunday’s service, we were greeted by a lot of very nice people. When I told them I had grown up there, most seemed surprised. Probably because I had already moved away from Delaware before any of them had first come there. I was there when Rev. Campbell first came to be the minister. And I babysat with their three children. I babysat on Sunday evenings over the supper time, and the children always had tomato soup with popped popcorn on the top. It was a long time before I realized that all ministers do not serve their children tomato soup with popped popcorn every Sunday evening for supper.
As we left the church and walked out into their new front entrance, I looked back at the winding stair steps that I remember so well. At this age of my life, I can’t imagine everyone climbing those stairs. And as we were heading toward our car, I looked back one more time to admire all the stained glass windows that I always thought were so beautiful in my growing up years ago.
Thanks to all the persons who made George and me so welcome to an important part of my past.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.