by Sandi Austin
As I began working on a project for the Heart of Longmont this weekend, I started thinking about St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Aurora, my family’s place of worship for many years. In particular, I thought of the stained glass windows my mother had designed for the church so many years ago while she was fighting cancer. So I started searching for an image of those windows.
I was shocked to see a November 5, 2018 Facebook post from St. Matthew Lutheran Church stating: it is with sadness (but necessary) that St. Matthew congregation has voted to close as of November 4. We will not have any more Sunday services going forward. We will have a Holy Closure service on December 1 at 2:30 pm.
I tried to wrap my head around what I’d just learned as I started remembering the St. Matthew moments of my life.
The earliest memory was of church camp when I was in grade school. I remember so well how homesick and lonely I was, and how a redheaded girl from a Denver Lutheran church befriended me after we were assigned to the same cabin. She made such an impact on me that I can still remember her name to this day.
When I reached junior high, it was time to take confirmation classes. I was so proud on Confirmation Sunday as I stood with my classmates in a special white eyelet dress my mother made just for the occasion. We each received a beautiful, personalized Bible. The girls each got a white Bible while the boys’ Bibles were black. It was as if we were real grownups then.
The church’s stained glass windows were foremost on my mind, however, as I searched the web for any images of the church’s interior. It was after I graduated that my mom’s window designs were finally dedicated, but it was a bittersweet occasion. We were so proud of her work, but also so very sad, as her eyesight had failed so much by the time they were installed that she couldn’t really see them.
When the day came that God called my mother home, St. Matthew was where her family and many friends gathered to remember her beautiful life. It was also where new chapters began.
My husband never got to meet my mother, but I’m sure that on the day we were married in that church, she was right there, smiling down on us.
I was sad, initially, to learn that the church that played such a big part in my life had ceased its Sunday worship services. But after I read how the church is living on through multi-cultural service to the surrounding neighborhoods, I felt better about it. It is now home to the Village Exchange Center that meets the physical and spiritual needs of multiple cultures and communities of immigrants and refugees.
It’s definitely not the same neighborhood I grew up in years ago … but my mother’s stained glass windows are still there, as if time just stood still.