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Celebrating the Heart of Westside

By Linda Fippin, President of the Board of Trustees

A few weeks ago, a few of us were sitting and chatting in the sanctuary before a Sunday service and I overheard someone talking about a game many of us learned as small children. Even if you weren’t a churchgoer, you will probably remember it. In the game, you mesh your fingers together so that they can’t be seen and say, “here is the church.” Then you raise your pinky fingers and touch them together and say, “here is the steeple.” Then you rotate your hands so that your fingers are pointing upwards and say, “open the doors and see all the people.”

I’ve been thinking about that rather silly childhood game lately. The part of the game that resonates with me is opening the metaphorical doors and seeing the people. Even if it is a bit of a cliché, it is nonetheless true that it is the people of Westside, not the building and grounds, that are the heart of our church. That is not to say that our church building and beautiful grounds are not important. They certainly are important and are the subjects of a recent significant achievement.

As those of you who are members and friends of Westside have probably heard, the church’s mortgage was paid off in early October. Paying off the mortgage means that the church building and those beautiful grounds are now held by Westside alone and not partly by a bank, and that the monthly mortgage payments will no longer be a part of our annual budget. Paying off the mortgage was an important achievement that was the result of years – decades, actually - of support from Westside members past and present.

The most recent effort was the Legacy Campaign, an ad hoc committee of Westside members that, without setting a specific amount to raise, focused on the benefits of eliminating the mortgage obligation. The Campaign ended in January 2023, at which point payoff was anticipated in about two more years. This was itself a rousing success. However, generous donations continued to come in and enabled the payoff about a year and a half earlier than anticipated.

I am myself a relative newcomer to Westside, having joined in 2017. Many of our current members, however, have been a part of the “heart of Westside” since before there was a church building, meeting instead in a storefront. It was these people, along with many other members who are no longer with us and others who, for various reasons, no longer attend services, that laid the groundwork for acquiring the land and constructing the building that we now cherish.

As a way to celebrate the accomplishment of paying off the mortgage but especially to acknowledge and thank the many people, past and present, who have contributed to the founding of Westside, its continued existence and the payoff of the mortgage, there will be a special service on Sunday, November 12 followed by a potluck luncheon. (Signup sheet available at Sunday services.) Letters of invitation have gone out to all members and the “old-timers” for whom we had contact information. I hope lots of you can attend whether you are a founder, a long-time member, a newcomer or a visitor.

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