In my life I have belonged to 3 churches. And each of these churches has, in its own way, provided sanctuary for me in times when I needed to feel safe or to re-center myself on a spiritual level. There was a time when having an open sanctuary literally saved my life.
The doors of the first two churches were always open when I needed them. I could just walk right in. The last church was always locked, but since I had a key because of other work I did there, I was able to use the sanctuary whenever I had the need. Until they took my keys away.
Having no quiet sacred space currently in my life continues to be a huge void I need to fill.
I have now become very interested in how physically welcoming churches actually are. When I went to the cemetery last month there was a church there, doors wide open with a sign outside saying “all are welcome”. I sat in that church before and after visiting the grave site and I am very thankful that it was there. I recently visited NYC with my daughter and every church we passed had its doors open.
My former church as just completed a new mission statement where one of its eight missions is a welcoming facility, although the text only talks about freshly painted rooms and new computers in the education building. The building is always locked, although the Elders have a security code to get in. When the secretary is there you can hit a call button to be let in but it is at a tiny side entrance a visitor would not know about. And in their newsletter is this.
So I am asking my limited (and mostly atheist) readership if their places of worship are available to anyone wishing to use their sanctuary. Are there only certain times, security access, or other impediments to welcoming a stranger? Even if you don’t have a church now, any info on your childhood or neighborhood church would be welcome. If you have a story about how the availability of an open sanctuary helped you, I would love to hear that too. And for all those readers who never comment, feel free to answer anonymously. I am just trying to get a sense of it.