Funeral home shelters worshippers in storm
McAlester-First secured a most unusual place for Sunday worship, when record snowfalls in early February forced many churches across the state to forego services.
The downtown church building sits atop a steep hill. The combination of snow, ice, and steep grade threatened to keep away even the bravest members. On Friday (Feb. 4), Senior Pastor Charles Neff and Associate Pastor Ruth Atterberry acted to find an alternate site.
They moved the Sunday morning worship service down the hill—to Bishop’s Funeral Home. The facility offers a 150-seat chapel, level parking, and easy access.
"The folks at Bishop’s were so gracious to invite us in to hold services," said Rev. Dr. Neff. "They made it possible for us to worship despite the weather."
More than 80 members and guests attended.
"We were blown away by the attendance," said Rev. Atterberry. "There were folks of all ages, from newborns to elderly. The little chapel felt quite full."
"Some may have come for the novelty," Neff said, "while I know others who shied away. The creep factor in moving to a funeral home was certainly a concern, but I remembered the early Christians in Rome worshipped weekly in the catacombs. They were undaunted by their surroundings because as Christians they believed that, through the resurrected Jesus, death was overcome.
"We got a little taste of that for ourselves. It was an enriching experience."
The pastors said transforming the space for Sunday worship was simple. Furniture was rearranged; a cross, candlesticks, and altar cloths were brought from the church. A video projector and screen displayed the hymns and Communion liturgy.