I don’t know how long most people keep their carpeting before replacing it, but us Lutherans in Towner give it a good, long run before performing the last rites of rugdom.
Our church building is the same age as me. The cornerstone reads 1970, the same year as my birth certificate. And, until last week, the carpet in our sanctuary had been in service to the Lord since…you guessed it, 1970.
That’s a pretty long time. When a carpet turns 43, it’s probably a little like dog years — we can say something mathematical like, “the carpet is 43 years old, which is like 108 for you and I.”
The carpet was showing its age. It had wrinkles and lumps, baggy spots, a few scars and the rug was wearing thin. Just like people as we get older.
Our church council decided this was finally the year to tear out the old carpet and put in a new one. We voted on the style and color pattern as a congregation and put a work day on the calendar to get together and make the church ready for the carpet layer.
This was no small undertaking. All those oak pews had to be moved out and their bases unscrewed from the floor. Four of our flock’s strongest gave a heave-ho and took them to the fellowship hall. Same with the organ, altar, piano and a few assorted cabinets.
Then it was time to pick up a corner of the old carpet and go. Glued down to the concrete slab in a sanctuary the size of a small town school gymnasium, we had to take it off in a lot of smaller bite size chunks.
When the carpet was gone and only the black foam was left stuck to the floor you could establish our Lutheran patterns of travel. It was pretty well shot heading down the aisle. Forty-three years of brides, grooms, wedding parties of various sizes, caskets of various weights, pallbearers and the usual Sunday traffic of those seeking worship and communion told the tale where the path was wore down to the floor.
The church looked different with all the pews and carpet gone. You had to really think to remember which family had which pew. Like milk cows in the appropriate stall, we all have our favorite place. I thought I could see a spot with some ground in crayons where those Taylor kids usually sit.
Then the hard work began with the scrapers and shovels to get the glued down foam off the floor and out the door. Partly done with that grisly task, we broke for a little supper in the fellowship hall.
Sitting there eating our barbeques, someone piped up, “when’s the stripper coming?” Now, that raised a few eyebrows amongst us Lutherans. “She was supposed to be here about now,” someone added. It was discussed that we couldn’t find a stripper in our little town and that we had to go to the big city of Minot to locate a stripper that we could have in our church for a couple of hours. The conversation went from bad to worse, or even better, depending on your sense of humor.
Worst of all, or best of all, when we finished our meal, we walked back into the sanctuary and there we found, gasp, the church council president in the middle of the floor with the stripper. And he was doing just what you’d expect, he was stripping the foam and glue off the floor with the rented Edco power stripper.
I’m looking forward to the next 40 years of worship, weddings, baptisms and celebrations of lives lived on our new carpet when it’s all done.
I’m not sure how long the new carpet will last, but I do know the story about the church council president and the stripper in the sanctuary will be around for years to come. ❖