Nov 212011

Yesterday, my church celebrated its 100th anniversary.

A hundred years ago, in 1911, Ronald Reagan and Roy Rogers were born, Madame Curie won the Nobel prize for chemistry, the first photograph was taken from an airplane (in San Diego), Titanic launched, Ray Harroun won the first Indy 500, Crisco shortening was introduced, and an audience threw vegetables at actors for the first time in recorded US history.

And here’s an interesting webpage – a woman, springing from entries in her grandmother’s journal, talks about what was going on 100 years ago today.

Well back to our church centennial service, I was anticipating a large dose of nostalgia, but instead was inspired by a resounding message of purpose for right now, and the future.

We aren’t the oldest congregation in San Diego – that distinction goes to the Roman Catholic Mission San Diego de Alcala, founded in 1769. Many local protestant congregations predate ours also, like the First Presbyterian Church downtown, founded in 1869.

And we certainly aren’t the biggest church. I jokingly tell people its the kind of church you might find as a prize in a cereal box. To me, sometimes it feels like a little country church in some small farming community. As our pastor said at the celebration, “This church never became big, but the hearts of its people have grown large.”

But in our little community niche of North Park, we currently are the singular century church. In the book, North Park: A San Diego Urban Village, we are listed first in the chapter on Pioneer Schools & Churches.

From humble beginnings in a tent on a dirt lot (you can get away with that sort of thing in San Diego’s climate), this congregation has trusted God and banded together to withstand the pressures of depressions, recessions, World Wars and other conflicts, and many other turmoils without and within – only by the grace and faithfulness of God.

We have stood as a beacon of hope in our community, consistently announcing for well over 5,000 Sundays, and other days in between, that

Jesus the Christ is coming again,

and through Him, it is possible to live life at a higher level!

History and context are important; they should be studied, understood and remembered. And yet, what a thrill for the Thinking Christian Woman to contemplate that God trusts her to represent Him in her moment in history. With Esther, we can confidently and faithfully ponder how God is using us in our spheres of influence, “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

God has promised in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Hallelujah! Press on!

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Nov 052011

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 2

Previously, the Thinking Christian Woman focused on why there is no church on Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. In this post, we reveal where you can find an actual church building in Disneyland.

But first, a backstage look at the-church-that-might-have-been. According to the forum, “Here is some Haunted Mansion trivia that came in my Disney catalog:  an early Disneyland park concept featured a church on Main Street USA surrounded by a graveyard leading up to a haunted house.” Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion eventually found a home in New Orlean’s Square, without the church.

And now, here’s the story of the-church-that-actually-is

According to the Disney resort webpage, Walt was so captivated by the colorful river barges of Europe, that he designed an attraction called Canal Boats of the World. On Opening Day, so much of the landscaping was not yet in place, it was nicknamed, “The Mud Bank Ride.”

Two months later, Canal Boats closed while Storybook Land was constructed and the muddy banks were landscaped with miniature plants, including a bonsai tree planted by Walt Disney himself that remains to this day. The revisioned attraction re-opened on June 16, 1956.

Back in July of 1951 Walt Disney Productions had released its 13th animated feature, Alice in Wonderland – the story of a little girl who gets lost in a nonsensical world. Though a box office flop, Alice influenced Fantasyland more than any other, maybe because Uncle Walt had a soft spot for her from as far back as the 1920’s when he produced a series of shorts featuring a live-action Alice interacting with cartoons. The “Alice Comedies” became a cornerstone of Walt’s early career success. It’s no wonder then that Alice has her own dark ride, teacups ride, and her village appears in Storybook Land.

As you float under the first bridge, you immediately see Alice’s cottage on the left along the river, with a church up the hill. Neither of these structures is featured in the movie, however, Alice’s voice can be clearly heard coming from the church, singing “All in the Golden Afternoon”, a selection from the movie.

Though not featured, I believe the church might appear in the movie. Check out this clip of Walt introducing the Alice in Wonderland feature on Christmas Eve 1954, and notice the river, with a clock tower that might be a church in the background – clear influences on Alice’s Village in Storybook Land.

If you have the time and would like to see where Alice’s church appears in the context of the entire ride, start looking around time marker 1:50, on the left, after the homes of the 3 Little Pigs in this home movie.

Attendance tip: The Storybook Land Canal Boats entrance is located along the parade route, so the attraction closes about an hour before any parade. On busy days, the best time to catch this ride is right after the parade passes.

So far, this is the only church we’ve found in Disneyland. If you find one, please let us know!

The churchyard gets special treatment around Christmas with a beautifully lit tree.

Alice dreamed she fell down a dark rabbit hole and found herself lost in a world of nonsense. The Thinking Christian Woman knows that, up above, in the light of the Son – in Jesus the Christ (symbolized by the village church) – God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), and He is eager to reveal His secrets to those who walk uprightly! (Proverb 3:32)

Note: This post title is an homage to the Little Brown Church in the Wildwood in Nashua, Iowa, made famous by the old country song by the same name (link takes you to a vintage Carter Family recording).  I have been to this sweet country church with my parents, Dad being a native Iowan, and I think it even looks a tiny little bit like Alice’s church!

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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