In This Very Room

by John C. Westervelt

"Memories Old and New" was published in the March 2004 Tidings. A last minute addition of my family picture in the middle of the article unknowingly pushed the last three paragraphs off of the page. The loss may have been fortuitous, for the missing words are more relevant today. I’ll include the three omitted paragraphs from the article and add some new memories of the spring of 2004.

"On February 29th I shall move from Asbury on south Sheridan to Asbury on south Mingo. This will be a joyful move because my adult friends and the children will move with me. The Ruth-Naomi stained glass window will be moved to the Mason chapel.

"Asbury’s cross standing high above the steeple will reach out to all those in the community who are seeking to know God. They will not be turned away by ‘no parking available.’ They will gather in the halls outside the sanctuary without bumping into each other. Whether choosing a traditional or contemporary service, most will worship together with a live Tom Harrison. No child or youth will be turned away for lack of room.

"After arriving at Asbury in 1970, I sensed that old memories would remain and new memories would be forthcoming, and that happened. In 2004 there is more than a sensing, there is an assurance that glorious new memories will be forthcoming."

During the spring of 2004, I spent my weekday mornings as a volunteer in the preschool rooms of the new Asbury. Here is what I observed:

The little boys play with cars and trucks on their hands and knees on the carpeted side of the room. The girls "dress-up" and play in the kitchen. The paint easel and craft tables are on the half of the floor covered with tile for ease of cleanup. Wide halls have eliminated congestion. Bathrooms connected to the classrooms shorten the child’s waiting time. Paint can be mixed and cleaned up at a sink in the room. The children have a bounce in their step as they go to the attached playground that has three groupings of equipment appropriate for children ranging from toddlers to kindergartners. The children can quench their thirst at the outside drinking fountain.

Safety was a part of every design decision during my engineering career; so I was pleased to see, on a tour during construction, the extensive piping of the sprinkler system. In their new environment, every child is safe from fire. The doors leading to the preschool wing can be opened from the inside, but require a key from the outside. An attendant admits children and their parents, who must have a control card. Every child is secure. Now in my mid-seventies, the bounce in my step has evolved into a slight shuffle. I like the safety of walking across a level parking lot to the church door.

I imagine the architect, with what was once a pencil and a T-square and is today a computer screen, drawing lines for wide halls around the sanctuary. As I walk from my Sunday school classroom to the sanctuary, traffic flows easily. Asbury reaches out to the community to make disciples. As the people come, they find a place to park and room for meditation and worship.

Should I think that the sanctuary is not as intimate as it once was, I close my eyes and recall the words of Bill Mason’s CD - In This Very Room. Bill could just as well be singing about the new Asbury sanctuary.

"In this very room, there’s quite enough love for one like me,

And in this very room, there’s quite enough joy for one like me,

And there’s quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom;

Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus is in this very room."

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