First Steps Into Our Sanctuary and Chapel

By February 21, 2017United Methodist Women

fumcfw-symbolism-3Casey OrrSince the day the stock market crashed and ground was broken on October 29, 1929, we have continued to build upon our own sacred space here at FUMCFW. Within that space stands one of Downtown Fort Worth’s top 10 landmarks: our spectacular Gothic Revival Sanctuary, along with our beautiful Leonard Memorial Chapel. And within those two spaces are many symbols which hold special meaning for our church family. “Both spaces evoke a sense of holiness,” says Rev. Casey Orr, Associate Pastor of Discipleship. “While both are profoundly beautiful when you zoom out, the details when you zoom in make you realize how much time and thought and faith have gone into designing our sacred spaces.”

At our March UMW Luncheon, Casey will help us uncover the details as we zoom in for a closer look at the symbolism in our Sanctuary and Chapel here at First Church. Like most of us, she admits that at first sight she was astounded by all of this detail — from the wood carving to the needlepoint to the stained glass. Unfortunately, first impressions tend to fade over time. “We worship in these spaces every week, encountering moving music, inspiring sermons, grounding liturgy, and prayers,” Casey says. “Every week we meet God here, but rarely do we take the time to slow down and appreciate the awe-inspiring space.” Though it may be hard to remember the first time we walked in, her guess is that it took our breath away, and her hope is that we can go back to that moment and be awed again.

fumcfw-symbolism-2These details that are etched into our church home — as well as our hearts and minds — serve as an ever-present reminder of all the firm foundations it was built upon. Although the many symbols which grace our Sanctuary and Chapel are important in their history and meaning, Casey points out that space is not sacred only because of the symbolism and the purpose for which it was designed. “It is made sacred by the people who use it and the life that happens within,” she explains. “The ways the people interact with the space and the symbols give it life.” That’s what makes sacred spaces like ours so dynamic.

Casey goes on to say that while a space used for worship communicates the basic needs of a community through its function, it also communicates the passion, theology, and priorities of a community. And as that community changes, the space evolves. She acknowledges that our church and our worship spaces are no different, yet there are elements that have remained the same for generations of worshippers. For Casey, that is what moves her the most. Even though our building and worship spaces are sacred by design, they have continued to be made sacred by life.

“Our church has been made sacred by the people who have moved in and out of it — the laughter of children, the creativity of teenagers, the sermons of gifted preachers, the wisdom of teachers, the commissioning of mission teams, the meals offered to the hungry, the welcome received by a stranger, the candlelight of Christmas Eve, the ‘Hallelujah’ of Easter, the inspiration of prayers and liturgies, the songs of choirs,” Casey describes. “It has offered protection and guidance and adventure for its people. It has offered hope and stability and refuge to its neighborhood. It has been made sacred by stories, by people, by transformation.”

fumcfw-symbolism-1Join us on Tuesday, March 7, at 11:30 am in Wesley Hall for our March UMW Luncheon. As we take a step back in time to when we were first awed by our church and the spaces we hold so dear, we will also take a new look at how the people of our church are the greatest symbol of all. Plus, following Casey’s presentation, Building Committee Chair Barry Hudson will give us a glimpse into our new Master Plan.

All women are invited to Luncheons & Programs sponsored by United Methodist Women. Reservations are required by noon on Friday, March 3, so we can plan accordingly for meals, seating, and child care. We look forward to seeing you there!

RSVP: | 469-844-8690

Child Care: Paula Wagstaff |



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