Monday, April 20, 2009

My Little Pink Church

I called my new BFF, the Mayor of Goose Creek on Saturday to see if he knew what time the annual church service at the St. James Goose Creek Church started. Calling him wasn't my original intention, but I emailed him on Thursday and he never responded... what's a girl to do? He told me that I could call him whenever I wanted, so... I did! After the initial greetings, we chatted for a while about history and the next thing I know he says "Pamela, you are a strange person."

Uhhhh. Well, what do you say when your Mayor thinks you are strange?

I asked "Why is that?" and he proceeded to tell me that he believes that he and I are the only people in town that care about history. Well, I really wouldn't go that far. It's just that I have nothing better to do! He asked me why that was the situation and I told him that people just get caught up in their lives and never take the time to think about the past and the people that were here before us. Like the Mayor, I not only think about it, I research it because I find it so fascinating.

The Mayor gave me the contact information for the person in charge of the Sunday service at the chapel and then invited me to come watch the Charleston Symphony Orchestra at City Hall that evening. I told him that I love the Orchestra, but I already had plans for the day and if I had a chance to go, I would definitely introduce myself.

(**Note to self, tell the Mayor that you dig chicks!)

The church service at The St. James Goose Creek church happens once a year and is always the Sunday after Easter. The little pink church is one of my super-secret places and this one, for the most part, still is a little bit of a secret, unlike Morris Island. It's on one of the main roads in town yet most people don't even realize it's there. It's tucked in the woods, safe from the view of passing cars and frankly, I like it that way!

Since I moved to Charleston I have had a love affair with this church. I started going there when I was a teenager for midnight make out sessions with boyfriends. Back then it was just a small road that took you back to the chapel and cemetery grounds. You always had to be extra quiet so you wouldn't wake up the people at the caretakers house on the way in. Now they have re-routed the drive behind the caretakers house, cut down trees to add extra parking spaces and put up a steel gate so you can't even access the road! A couple of years ago I parked outside the gate and was stopped and told it was private property. I pretty much begged the guy to let me go and take pictures. I think I may have actually had tears welling up in my eyes when he told me that I couldn't go back (which he finally did!) This is one of those places on Earth that I am connected to for some strange reason.

For 18 years I stopped at the church randomly and one day a couple of years ago, when I walked through the gate I saw something that I had never seen before... the church doors were open! I had only seen the inside from the postcards I collected of the church and the random photos online. I had longed to go inside the church for so long I could hardly contain myself! I saw that there was a construction worker doing some restoration so I approached him and asked him if he would allow me to go inside. He looked very hesitant and then the begging started. I told him how much I loved the church and promised to not touch a thing. He told me that he really wasn't supposed to and then made me promise to make it quick.

I walked in the church and was absolutely overcome by what I saw and smelled. This 300-year old church was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I silently thanked the British Army for sparing it so that I could enjoy it as much as I have. The only thing I can compare it to is being at Tate Britain and seeing one of my favorite paintings, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche. I could have sat in amazement for hours just looking at every tiny detail. To me, this church is a living, breathing masterpiece and I was finally able to go inside!

I learned of the annual Sunday service several years ago but could never get my crap together to actually go. I was determined that this was the year I was going and I recruited Samantha to be my partner in crime.

The Vestryman that I emailed never emailed me back so I Googled his email address and called him Saturday evening -I'm persistent to say the least! He told me that the service started at Noon and that I was welcome to join the annual picnic lunch after the service. Picnic? I had no idea! Maybe next year!

When I was waiting for Samantha to show up I went outside to my car around 11:45 because I was wearing black pants and kept having to get out the lint brush - ugh! I waited until 11:50 and she STILL wasn't there and I was livid! I couldn't believe that she was going to make me late to something that was SO important to me! I called her and left a message saying that I hoped everything was alright but that I was leaving since I didn't want to be late. Luckily the church is right around the corner from my house... although parking was a bitch! She ended up arriving at the church after the service started. I had to remember that I was in church so I wouldn't cuss her out although I think I told her that she sucked during the sermon.

The weather was so nice. All the windows were open and there was a really nice breeze drifting through. I couldn't help but think about all of the people that sat here before us with hoop skirts, top hats and petticoats! So amazing!

1886 Earthquake

After the service (which was VERY "Jesusy") we grabbed our cameras and went to town. I'm still trying to get used to using this camera and forget to correct the settings. I'll have taken 50 shots and then remember that the automatic zoom is on... uhhh, no wonder I can't get everything into the picture!

We stopped and chatted with the minister for a bit, who was from the Dominican Republic. Apparently, they choose someone from around the world each year to give the sermon since they don't have a regular minister. I actually liked that he was quite personable and didn't give a stuffy sermon - refreshing! Also, I forgot to mention that the Charleston's Men's Choir sang, which was also quite lovely.

After taking many pictures and wandering aimlessly we walked through the sea of picnics and headed back to our cars. Starving, we decided to get lunch at Bucca's and then called it a day since it looked like it was going to rain (but actually never did!)

When I got home I received this email:

----- Original Message -----
From: Michael (The Mayor!)
To: Pamela
Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 10:46 AM
Subject: RE: Sunday Service at St. James Goose Creek Church

Did you find out about the Sunday service? Didn't see you at the symphony!


How do you think I would look in a pill box hat at ribbon cutting ceremonies with the Mayor by my side??


Traci and Tonya were out with Teresa and when they came back we watched a movie called "The Uninvited" - I am still wishing for the 2 hours of time that I was robbed of after watching that movie.

I guess weekends can't be TOTALLY perfect!


Clytie said...

I never would have believed from the outside that the inside was so awesome! No wonder you love this wonderful little church. P.S. I never thought pink would work on a church, but it is perfect as well.

Beth Niquette said...

I'm with Clytie, pink works with this church building very well. It is beautiful--so bright and filled with light.

Thank you for sharing your stories, and the history and pictures of your church adventure.