Church rises again, holds first service in new home

Published 4:32 pm Monday, October 15, 2018

By NANCY WILSTACH / Special to the Reporter

MONTEVALLO – Even without their stained glass windows, the members attending the first service in the restored Montevallo Presbyterian Church felt very much at home.

The first service in the resurrected sanctuary came Sunday morning Oct. 14. The Presbyterians had been meeting in their Forbes House student center since a tree fell on the sanctuary April 3, 2017. The ancient oak tree smashed through the sanctuary while leaving the Sunday School and administrative wing relatively intact.

Inside the church Sunday morning, bright sunlight shown through the plain glass windows. Don Clayton, head of the church’s building committee, assured the flock that the windows eventually would receive stained glass skin “although I am afraid it may be after Christmas.”

Pre-tree, the largest stained-glass window, a depiction of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, was iconic in Montevallo.

The atmosphere for the first Sunday service in the restored sanctuary was one of thankfulness, coupled with concern for those on the Gulf Coast who were trying to dig out from a much bigger storm than the one that brought down an old oak tree on a 100-year-old landmark church.

Some among the 40 or so attending the service spoke during “sharing of joys and concerns” about the “joy of being in this space again.”  Wayne McLaughlin, who filled in Sunday for the Rev. Lindsey Wade, assured those concerned for Gulf Coast residents that “Our Presbyterian Disaster Relief is there to help.”

Jane Clayton sang in the seven-member choir and praised the acoustics. She pointed to the steep wood ceiling with recessed lighting. Before the tree came down, she said, “we had no idea it was there.”

Restoration included replacing the original peaked wooden ceiling with the modern touch of recessed lighting.

The choir’s sound swells from the apse to fill the sanctuary beneath the gable roof, naturally amplifying it. The cream robes, with green yokes, reflect the simplicity of the white and pale gray of the walls and ceiling.

The floors are gleaming polished oak. The pews, although new, came from Rainsville Church Pew Co. to fit the century-old design of the church. Two of the pews from the old sanctuary were rescued, Michele Pawlik said, and are being used in the fellowship area and in the Forbes House.

Among those in the first Sunday congregation were Jim and Carol Comiez, Andrea and Daisy Northen, Tonya and Patrick Mayton, Kirk and Carol Lightfoot, Janice Seaman, Spencer Sears and Michele and Dave Pawlik. Matt Suddarth directed the choir with Molly Mize accompanying.

During his remarks McLaughlin invited all to partake of communion, reaffirming that Montevallo Presbyterian Church (USA) “welcomes all people into the full life of our congregation . . . we welcome all people regardless of social, economic or marital status, race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or previous religious affiliation.”

McLaughlin reminded the congregation to “come back next week and bring someone with you for the first second Sunday” in the restored church.  Service begins at 11 a.m., at 501 Shelby St., Montevallo