What's in your closet?

Even though I have only been at St. Stephen’s a few months now, I have been somewhere that even some long-time members don’t know about: the closet inside a closet behind the chapel organ. It holds the sound system, so while we’re redoing the floors in the nave, I spend most of Sunday service back there turning the microphones on and off and adjusting the volumes. I’ve been intrigued by some of the things that have been tucked in there, my favorites being a mousetrap (no cheese and no mouse), instructions for setting up a Thanksgiving fruits-and-flowers display from 1965, a fairly large creche, and a very old case of Dixie beer.

It got me thinking: I bet you can tell a lot about a church from its closets.

I thought about the church where my mom worked when I was nine or so. Its closet had been converted into a pre-Xerox print shop where my mom literally “cranked out” the Sunday bulletin for the church’s good and orderly worship service. I thought about the picturesque Queen Anne church where Corey and I (and a dozen other Gen-X couples) got married in 1999. The “Wedding Closet” was given prime real estate in the tiny foyer of the sanctuary. It overflowed with candleabras and parking cones for the wedding party, and the nursery preschool Sunday School soon overflowed, too.

I decided to check my hunch with Maggie Williams, one of our newest Vestry members. She is the owner of The Tidy Magpie, a home organizing business. I wondered what she sees from family to family, since churches are a lot like families.

“Definitely,” Maggie said. “Closets can be an eye into what’s going on in the life of the family and what it values. And churches are families!”

Closets are where you will find evidence of what the family has decided to go big on. You’ll see a distinct fingerprint of a family that reads together, eats together, or skis together.

I asked Maggie what she thinks St. Stephen’s goes big on based on our closets. We agreed that St. Stephen’s has a history of creating meaningful moments in its beautiful spaces. There is evidence of candles lit, flowers arranged, music perfected, and sacraments administered–all with excellence and high attention to detail. We are also known for our hospitality whether we’re gathering together to celebrate or say goodbye to loved ones, opening our doors to let others use our buildings, or taking food to the hungry elsewhere.

The heart of St. Stephen’s beats strong–even in its closets!