Last night as I was manning my 5-7PM post at the imagineGallery for Joe Don Richardson's Deep Waters exhibit of photography: http://oldmenplantingchurches.blogspot.com/2012/11/imaginenorthamptons-arts-night-out-2.html, a middle-aged couple and their 20-something daughter walked into the space. We exchanged greetings and they headed into the front room where most of his work hangs.
When they returned from viewing, they had all manner of praise for his photographs and our gallery, especially the woman. She gushed a bit. I was delighted, to be honest. She then asked how long we'd been here? I told her we'd come up from Connecticut 4+ years ago, and had been at our current location for a little over 3 years. Next, she asked what was our mission and vision for the gallery?
Wow, what an open door! So I said we're a church at which point she blurted all wide-eyed, "A frickin' church???" "Yup," I said adding, "actually that's our byline: "We're a frickin' church!" They all laughed good-naturedly. I then went on to tell them what we're about, why we have the weird name, and why we are using our space part-time as an art gallery. She apologized for using the word "frickin'", adding she is normally "church-averse." I told her I was not offended by either, and talked a little bit more about what artists we had coming next.
She and her husband then asked if we had any materials and if we met as a church in the building? I responded we offer counseling during the week, but had moved our Sunday worship elsewhere. They took one more look at Joe Don's work, and then as they headed out the door, she turned abruptly and said, "I don't know what it is, but there is just something about this space." I nodded and smiled.
Our entire interaction lasted maybe 3-4 minutes. I loved every minute of it. As mentioned in the blog about Joe Don's Opening Reception, we have received many remarks about the space. People are curious about who we are, especially when we mention we are church folk. They have no category for how we're being church. I'm getting better at responding to such questions. When I do, people always seem to have a, "Well whadya know!" look on their faces. The fact we are doing a pretty good job at being a gallery doesn't hurt either, but the most fun is engaging people about church and faith in such a context.
And it's laugh-out-loud funny when a diminutive, 60-something woman pairs the word "frickin'" with "church" in the same sentence. Made my night!!!
By the way, you really should come out and see Joe Don's work. We'll be open this Saturday evening from 5-9 PM, and the following Friday and Saturday, 5-9PM also.