Sunday, March 13, 2016

Our Growing Church Collection

First United Methodist Church, Punta Gordo, FL

Last November, I wrote a post about collecting churches as Tim and I travel.  Since then, we've visited Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches with an interdenominational church thrown in for good measure.

This church was built with plans ordered from a catalog.

Continually visiting but never committing to a church has been a little lonely. For most of our married life, we've been involved in a small group of believers drawn from the churches we've joined. We miss the deeper friendships of those groups.  But at our first Habitat for Humanity construction site in January, we found that fellowship with other HFH volunteers can be sweet, too.  

The opportunity to worship the Lord in varying traditions within Christianity has been compelling. Some say that the splintering of the different denominations means that Christianity is nothing but a hoax.  But I believe that the differences show that God is infinite and can never be fully known by our finite minds; therefore, worship traditions differ.  Yet, all of the churches we've visited have focused on the saving grace of Christ's death on the cross to pay for our sins and the eternal life He promises through His resurrection from the dead.  That's the story of Easter which we will be celebrating in two weeks' time, no matter where we find ourselves.  

These past two Sundays we've attended First United Methodist Church in Punta Gorda, FL.  Our criteria for picking a church to visit has been to look for a church that meets in a historic building or, failing that, to attend a church that is in close proximity to our campground.  This church fit both criteria.

Established in 1887, the congregation started building its historic sanctuary in 1912, using blueprints ordered from a catalog.  According to an article in Punta Gordo's local newspaper, the architect was Benjamin Price of Philadelphia, a purveyor of plans for over 6,000 "moderately priced" churches.  Building the church in Punta Gordo proceeded slowly as the congregation was able to raise funds; but finally, in 1920 it was completed.

Last Sunday we arrived too late to attend the 8:00 a.m. traditional service held in the historic sanctuary.  We wound up instead at the 9:15 contemporary gathering in the recently built Life Center.  There we were delighted to know the words of several praise songs used in worship.  However, this morning we woke up early--WAY early, given that today was the day to move the clock forward--so we could attend worship in the old sanctuary.  Surprisingly even at that hour, the sanctuary was filled.  And, as the words of an old hymn say, there's a sweet, sweet spirit in this place.


  1. You're right that missing your regular church family is one of the downsides of this lifestyle - but there is always the opportunity to meet new like-minded people. I also miss singing with my church choir friends - but I will probably get a chance to do that when I swing back around to our old stomping grounds. Hang in there - you never know what God has in mind for you.

  2. Yes, we've met some very welcoming believers in the churches we've visited. I know you have experienced the same. No doubt you'll have the opportunity to sing with your choir in the future.