by Pastor George Van Alstine
I remember visiting an old Swedish Baptist church in Gardner, MA, in the 1960s. I was a young man then, believe it or not. That whole part of Western Massachusetts was all hills – hardly a level spot anywhere. This church was situated at least fifty feet higher than the roadside sidewalk.
I remember looking up and thinking, “Boy, those pioneering Swedes were a hardy bunch!” I was puffing long before I reached the level of the church sanctuary. Today, we’d never build a church on a hillside like that. Society has a healthy new respect for a factor called “accessibility.”
ABC’s building was constructed in 1958. Southern California is more laid back than cold, austere New England, and even the hillsides tend to be more gradual, so the church sanctuary can be reached without climbing steps. But some of us have been bothered for years about the seventeen stairs that have to be negotiated to participate in fellowship and educational activities in the lower floor of the building.
So we finally undertook the BIG project of providing a lift between floors and upgrading the restrooms to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The construction project has turned out to be much BIGGER than we anticipated. However, we are pleased to announce that there is now a solid date for the manufacturers to install the lift — Tuesday, October 23! The restrooms, though still in need of detailed finishing work, have been functional for a couple of weeks.
Accessibility is near to the heart of God. He intends his message of love and salvation to be freely available to every human being. He “broke down the middle wall of partition” to bring the Gospel to Gentiles as well as Jews. He asked his disciples to carry the Good News to the ends of the earth, to “every tribe and language and people and nation.” He made the message so clear that even a little child can understand and accept his gift of grace.
Throughout history, he inspired humans to develop advances in communication, such as the printing press, radio, television, and computer technology, so that his story can be told to every living person. He called missionaries to cross cultural and linguistic barriers to bring his invitation to the far corners of the world.
I’m glad we can partner with God’s accessibility goals by eliminating the need for older and disabled people to climb seventeen stairs in order to participate fully in the activities of the ABC family. Maybe the Lord is asking you to help a little more with this project.
In spite of the fact that we have cut corners as much as possible and have used volunteers for much of the construction work, the cost has been considerably higher than anticipated. This has caused us to use up most of our other reserve funds. A designated check for this purpose would be a BIG encouragement right now. Thanks.