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  • Renee Nadeau's story of respecting your elders and being raised to do so made me think of the history of my church.

    We just celebrated the 130th anniversary of the church, and I've been a member for 37 of those years. Having worked on the written history for six months last year, some of the folk thought I should be the church historian. There had not been one for a decade or so and the files were in a shambles. Since April I have been at work in those files, trying to restore order, and in doing so, have also got to know a whole slew of the members who came before me.

    Slowly, I have read through the church history, handwritten, mind you, for the first few decades. The history is contained in large ledgers, filled with newspaper clippings, committee minutes, and other ephemera. Everyone worked so hard to get the first churches built yet they burned three times. In the late 1800s, churches were made of wood and had gas lights. Finally, in 1896, a brick edifice was constructed. It remained in place for the next 60 years, only being left when a new building was constructed way out in the country. Then the real work began, and I was amazed to read, now from bound copies of the church newspaper, of all the details of what the pastors, teachers, and leaders did to raise up a congregation of 2000 with a Sunday School averaging 1000 each Sunday morning.

    The picture was taken at the old "downtown" church to show the crowded conditions of the classrooms. A plea was made to raise the funds to build a new structure. The children in that photo grew up to become the leaders of the congregation after it moved "out north." They had been raised to take care of the church, its members, and to raise up a new generation who would do likewise. Something has gone off-track, though.

    That next generation has pretty much disappeared. I've gone through records of births, marriages, and membership rolls, and the children born in the 60s and 70s are no where to be found. They left and are raising their children outside the church walls. Those are the children of whom Ms. Nadeau speaks. The children who have not been raised with multiple generations taking charge of their well-being. The children who had no elderly grandparents or neighbors nearby. Or, if they had them, they ignored them as there was no relationship. They did not come to Sunday School and have older teachers who passed on the rules and mores of the previous generations. It makes me sad.

    It has also inspired me to do more than just read of those hard working generations who came before me. I have returned to teaching Sunday School, first and second grade, with the hope of making an impact on the newest generation to come through those church halls. We have an amazing facility, and I am hopeful we can find enough people who will work as diligently as those before us did. That is my prayer, anyway, and I'm trusting God to remember His people who prayed and worked before me. I believe our future depends on it.
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