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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

TITLE: Nomads
By Nancy Jo Wilson


They were nomads for eight years. The church's journey began as a germ, an idea in the mind of the pastor and his wife. Create a service stripped of the ornamentation and reduced to the basics, worship and the word. It was those two fundamentals that mattered, not the place, so they set up shop in a Messianic synagogue.

Next the local skating rink, a fun location where descending balloons attacked during worship and gum had to be scraped from every imaginable surface. Then their journey took them back to the synagogue and finally to a movie theater. Stadium seats and cupholders, who could ask for more?

The faithful patiently went from place to place. Noting, not the year they started coming, but the place they started coming to. "I've been here since the skating rink," one would say. All the while arriving early to set up and staying late to take down, storing church accoutrements until the next Sunday. They opened their homes for Bible studies, pot lucks and baptisms. If not the beach, any swimming pool will do. Some left, others came and the journey continued.

Four years in the Lord provided land. Excited at the prospect of soon having a permanant dwelling, a few braved the woods and had a small groundbreaking. 'Soon' turned into another four years. The congregants became familiar with concepts like zoning and easements. The pastor mollified two different agencies on the subject of wetlands. And the faithful marched on.

Finally, the building opened and numbers more than doubled overnight. New challenges arose. Where do we put all those children? A classroom was turned into a nursery, expanding the children's wing, and all was well. At the grand opening, the pastor reminded them that while it was great to have a building, it was not "The Church." "We are the church," he said. "We people. In the wilderness and in the Temple, the people had to go to God's dwelling place, but now we are His dwelling place."

After almost a year of sermons, dinner on the grounds and movie nights, they were nomads again. Thieves broke into the air conditioning system and stole the copper tubing. Summer heat made the building inhospitable. Services were moved to a local auditorium and once again, the people patiently went to a new place. Once again the faithful arrived early to set up and stayed late to take down. The building was vandalized, but The Church was unharmed.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan12/13/07
I get the message that you're trying to get across, but it seems to end up just being a history timeline without helping the reader to get into the characters' minds. I think what happened it that you tried to pack too much into the story. With 750 words, it's better to just take one or two episodes and then put detail and dialogue into them. Translating that to this piece, you could focus on the break-in and have a meeting for all the members, during which you could mention the history and have a rousing speech by the pastor on how the people are the church, not the building they put so much hope into.
Joanne Sher 12/15/07
An interesting journey - you definitely kept me interested. I did, however, find this a touch dry - might have engaged me more with some characterization of some sort. Just my thoughts, though.