Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do You Think God Will Mind?

Last week, I decided to do some more exploring of the Greensboro area. I had run across the First Presbyterian Church near Fisher Park and with one glimpse of those stained glass windows, I knew I had to get inside for photographs.

It is usually frowned upon for someone to be walking from end to end of the sanctuary, kneeling, squatting, even lying on the floor to take pictures during a church service. So I took a chance and went mid-week.

I walked up to the huge Gothic-looking doors and pulled the handle. Locked.

So I walked around to the side entrance and pulled the handle. Locked.

So I walked around to the next side entrance and pulled the handle. Locked. But with a message - You must enter through the office.

So I walked around the building, looking for the office. Checking a few more door handles along the way. Locked.

Upon finding the office, I pulled the handle. Locked.

What?? Yep, locked. But the lady at the desk saw me and buzzed me in. Yes, buzzed me in. Apparently, they are serious about keeping people OUT of this church. (Which sort of goes against what I thought churches were about but that is a post for another day.)

Anyway, I approached the lady, telling her of my request to photograph the stained glass in the sanctuary. I was expecting to be given a little hand-drawn map to guide me through the hallways and be sent on my way. But she looked at me like I had sprouted another head, saying "Oh, I've never had that request before. I'll have to ask my boss."

She turned to another lady in the office and we were told that I would have to make arrangements with so-and-so but she wasn't here today....

All I heard was "NO, you cannot see our stained glass!"

But I am nothing if not persistent. Some might even call me stubborn but I really wouldn't go that far. Anyway...

As I left, I decided to check EVERY door on that building. I came upon a fenced play area but the gate was open and there were a couple of doors in the fenced area. To me, open gate = come on in! So I went in.

At the back of the fenced area, there was another open gate (Again, open gate = come on in!) that led to a small courtyard and more doors. So I went in. And yes, the door at the very back was unlocked. I took this as another sign of welcome!

So I tiptoed in. Hearing voices from the hallway, I edged closer to the door, hoping to see a flight of stairs or hallway that I could get to without being seen. No luck. The only thing away from the voices was a door marked "Mechanical" and a small kitchen.

I took a deep breath and walked out into the hall toward the voices, carrying myself like I was supposed to be there.

The voices belonged to a couple of very friendly janitors. One spotted my camera and joked about having his picture taken. I told him I was there to photograph the stained glass. And he lead me to the sanctuary!! Even offering to unlock the door if it happened to be locked!!

In I went and that stained glass did not disappoint. My photographs of it might - I did not have my tripod so the shots with a little longer exposure are shaky. But, wow, that place was beautiful. And what a grand pipe organ they had! I can just imagine how beautiful a wedding would be there!!

After about 30 minutes of taking pictures, I headed out. I went back to the door that I had come in and promptly got lost! Thankfully, my friendly janitors showed back up and unlocked the door that was closest to where I had parked my car.

I called Vol Fan and told him of my adventure. He thinks I'm a sinner.


Living on the Spit said...

No, not a sinner...God provided a way for you to experience His beauty and awe. I wish I had been there with you. I would have had to pick my mouth up off the floor.

WOW! is all I can say and the photos are gorgeous.

What a great experience! To see the beauty of Him first hand and in solitude.

smiles4u said...

I agree, not a sinner, just someone wanting to photograph a beautiful work of art that holds meetings of worship. I don't think God minds these things like some humans do. These pictures are beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Im not even a religious person, but you cant help but feel SOMETHING in a place like that.
Absolutely beautiful! I stand in awe of that kind of architecture. It gets harder and harder to find a builder who even knows how to hang crown molding properly, and to think most of those were built well before we had all the power tools and computer aided design programs just boggles my mind.

Snooty Primadona said...

Wow! I'm so glad you were resourceful enough to get in! That first picture made my eyes pop out of my head. What a feast for the eyes. That is truly one of the lovliest churches I've ever seen. Inside & out. Just Wow!

Grandma J said...

Those are beautiful stained glass windows. Your persistance paid off!!
I had the same thought many times, but I'm never the only one there. If I laid down on the floor someone might try to resuscitate me!

It's a shame that churches have to be locked up during off's because of vandalizm. At least that's why my church had to lock up at night.

Desert Survivor said...

What beautiful stained glass! I'm glad you got in!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Woody, Coming from someone who used to work in churches for MANY years, I have two comments:
-When I worked at a beautiful church in New Orleans, we also HAD to keep everything locked--although we had notes on every door telling people where they could go to buzz in. We HAD to do that for security sake. Otherwise, we would have had street people --and who knows what else-- living in the church. Scary!
-That being said, there's NO excuse for a secretary or someone working in the office NOT to allow you (or a visitor) into the sanctuary to take pictures. That is inexcusable!!!

I am glad that you did get in --and got to take your pictures. That church looks like ones that we saw in Charleston and Savannah... AND--oh, there's the National Cathedral in Washingto D.C. I need to find some of our pictures of the insides of beautiful churches.

Great pictures.

Dirtbikes and Divas said...

I agree with everyone, I believe God kept poking you to get you into that church, the pictures are amazing whether you are religious or just spiritual these pictures speak to you. I am intrigued by the stain glass in my own church and have photographed it in weeks past but it doesn't even hold a candle to this....thanks for the morning inspiration.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

God doesnt mind...he was seeing how bad you wanted those pictures~He is in charge you know!
A sinner? Tell Vol Fan we all are sinners but we are forgiven!
Awesome pictures!
Mexico has churches camera worthy!

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. Very, very pretty. I am glad you went. Taking pictures of stained glass windows is not sinning. Disregarding the secretary might be though...

Jay said...

That's beautiful! Just gorgeous.

I don't think God would mind. The church is not, after all, the fabric of the building, it is the people.

I hate the fact that churches are locked, but it's because so many have been desecrated by vandals and thieves. Since you let yourself in without doing any damage and took nothing but photographs, it was only civil regulations that you offended. ;)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Of course God would not mind at all. I always thought he had an open door policy, but with all the mean people out there I suppose he must be more diligent.
The pictures are beautiful. You should hit a service there one Sunday and let us know again about that organ. ;)

Predo said...

Wow! It is beautiful. The painstaking perfection in it all. Amazing!