Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rock of Ages

Having explored some of the early sites with possible religious significance, this day we sought a more familiar seat of spirituality -- Trinity Methodist Church in Newlyn. The pastor, Julyan Drew, presided over the blessing ceremony for Simon and Zoe two years ago. (This was, in essence, a renewal of the vows they took in Oklahoma for the benefit of Simon's family who could not attend the wedding.) We have heard many remarks about the moribund state of religion in Britain and, from the times we have attended church in this country, have had to agree that congregations are aging and dwindling. Trinity has broken with tradition in more ways than one. Their meeting place is a contemporary multipurpose center adjacent to the original chapel which needed (and still needs) serious restoration. During the week, the room serves many needs in the community. On Sunday, chairs are set up and large side doors are opened, revealing the area housing the communion table. Behind the table, a modern stained-glass window casts appealing color into the area. The communion table, pulpit and baptismal font were all made locally -- combining masterful woodwork with stunning copper crafting. Worshippers filled the room and the live acoustics created a full sound as hymns were sung. The service was inspiring and the congregation responsive and warm with young families making up a good portion of the group. Julyan's charismatic personality must be a driving force in the feeling of life and love in this place. I don't want to call it charm, that's too superficial, but he has a glow of goodness about him that is undeniable. A testimony to this -- before the service, he wanted to prepare a little girl (she must have been about 18 months old) before her baptism. He took Olivia from her mother and carried her around, talking to her and showing her the baptismal font. When he took her back to her mother, she didn't want to leave Julyan so he continued carrying her around. Finally, her mother enticed her with a bottle. When the time for the baptism came, same reaction. She wasn't even concerned when he tipped her toward the font and poured water on her head for the ceremony. Julyan would be the last to take credit for what is happening in this little village. An old hymn says it all, "There's a sweet, sweet spirit in this place and I know that it's the Spirit of the Lord." This was a good way to start our last day in Penzance. I won't be blogging for a couple of days because we'll be travelling -- first by train, bus and train (wouldn't you know, track maintenance) with a night spent in Gatwick, then the long flight from London to Dallas and a quick flight home. I'm looking forward to seeing my Oklahoma kids and grandkids, getting Roxie from the kennel and enjoying my really good shower and good bed before I hit the road again. Thanks for reading and following our trip with us.

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