23 May 2010

Goodbye Dear Old Lady

This Dear Old Lady is a wonderful Edwardian theatre that has been a part of my life for the last sixteen years: The Mercury. Home to my church family since I was a twenty-something single girl.

Tonight was our last service in her, because we are moving onwards and upwards into the much larger Town Hall for our Sunday Services. Everyone is pumped.
I have mixed emotions. Sniff sniff.

I was there back in the days when our church dreamed of (and prayed for) a building of our own. I was part of it when we bought and moved into this amazing old listed building in 1994.
There when they discovered the architectural treasures hidden beneath 1970's boxing and saw her come out from under dull grey paint, to vibrant gold-tipped gorgeousness.

I've stood on her stage and preached. I've played a Victorian Missionary wife in a dramatic production on her stage, dressed up as Abba for a youth concert, put together shows and run countless events in this fabulous place.
The backstage smell still brings butterflies.

I graduated from Leadership College here. I was ordained as a Pastor here.

The resource room is where my office once stood. In that very room I blurted out my idea for a youth education programme to reach school dropouts. That idea became a project which changed my life as well as hundreds of others. CLS is still running and has grown exponentially from its once humble beginnings in 1997. My precious little "delinquents" came here to learn, to tag our walls, to annoy our neighbours and to secretly sniff glue in the toilets until we caught them. Ahhh if these walls could speak. (I'm kinda glad they can't, who knows what else they got up to that I never knew about??)

I met my husband within these old walls. He sauntered into my life and we co-existed peacefully, barely taking notice of each other... until... well until we noticed each other.

I lectured at the Leadership College, which ran in The Mercury. He was a student. What an annoying student he was too! Hardly paying attention to my lectures and giving me a rotten review. I would never have imagined that this painful person would become my dearly beloved. The Mercury holds so many memories of our beginnings... early conversations, early realisations... It was after a gig at The Mercury that Mr G offered me a ride home which detoured into coffee and talking til the cafe closed and he asked me to watch him play football the next day...

Our wedding was held in this wonderful old building. I walked up the aisle to him, on my daddy's arm.

We stood at the front surrounded by family and friends, who cheered and clapped and laughed when he kissed the bride and the deal was done.

Our children were brought here from their earliest days, cuddled sleeping in our arms, nursed in the parents room. We stood at the front and presented each one to God, dedicating ourselves to bring them up in His ways. On the same spot where we had made our vows to each other. They are making friends for life here too. But it will be in a different place from now on.

So many memories crowd in. Memories of sitting in the empty darkened theatre, praying, crying, connecting with God. Memories of wonderful music, celebrations, events, concerts, weddings, even funerals. For almost half my life this beautiful Old Lady has played a central role.

This for the girl who moved house nearly every year, and attended ten different schools. Having a place like this where memories have been made over so many years is priceless.

I have been part of this church family for twenty years this year. I've made friends for life here, and I'll take those with me. After all, a Church is not a building.
It's people. It's family. It's connection.
I know this. I know!

But still, a part of me is a little sad, a little nostalgic for all the memories that have been made in the wonderful old Mercury Theatre.

Thankyou for the good times, Mercury. I'll take the memories with me but I will still miss you.


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Sarah Joyce said...

Gosh Simone, I haven't been there for ages, and this made me feel a bit weepy!!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Sarah,

I also was there at the very beginning when the church first moved in to the theatre. I was baptised there and have many precious memories.

Thanks so much for posting this Simone!

Anna x

Simoney said...

I have a photo of your baptism Anna! I was nearly going to post it with this because I have really cute plaits in my hair in it (is that shallow??)! xx

PaisleyJade said...

Wow - will be a massive change, for the better... but so glad you can take memories with you too.

Fiona said...

I want to see more pics of you in the 'before' life! PLEASE? You will have those precious memories for life, Simone. I'm not a great lover of change, but the words of a song by Chris Tomlin come to mind "GREATER THINGS are yet to come and greater this are still to be done in this city! Praying you'll have even more intense memories of connections with God and Divine encounters in the Town Hall. Love, Fiona

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful story. Loved it! (I can feel the emotion!)

Gail said...

We've been there for 10 years now.... the theatre has been such an amazing blessing and part of so many lives. I am often in awe of how the God did His thing and the theatre became His House.
I'm excited about the move. It will be different, but so necessary. When we first came along to the Merc, we sat in the top balcony with 1 or 2 other fringe dwellers.... to think now that the space is too small for what is needed to continue building God's kingdom in the city of Auckland....how cool is that?!!
I'm praying that the Merc will still be as loved as she has been these past 20 years... I've hoped (secretly) that we wouldn't have to let her go......

Simoney said...

I've added a few extra photos... for YOU Fiona! The quality is pretty crappy because I had to photograph old prints (no scanner)... but you get the idea - we had fun. Sigh.

Shell said...

A lot of wonderful memories there. :)

Julie at ModernDayMiddleAge said...

I've read so many of your posts tonight that I don't even know which one to comment on ... I just love your blog and your writing! 'Nuff said!

Found you on SITS, btw!

Ann Kroeker said...

So sweet to read this walk down your Memory Lane and get to know you better. I'm glad to know that your new digs turned out positive, too. Now you get to build new memories with a new backdrop for you and your family for the next 20 years.

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