Before expensive technology and maybe a more trusting community, we left our churches unlocked, even our homes, or in the summer, just locked the screen door to let the cool night air in.
Reverend Hatch told the story in the sermon of finding a young man in the pews. I believe it was in 1972, that famous summer. Our minister lived in the manse, next to the church. His office was in the basement of the new building. This morning he walked through the sanctuary after the storm the night before, discovering a vagabond lying in the front pew. The twenty-something man, apologized for being there. He must have overslept, he just came in during the storm for some shelter, and maybe to think, he explained.
Rev. Hatch affirmed that there was no problem with the traveler being there. This place is for shelter and thinking. They talked for a while. The aimless man hitch hiking across America telling a bit of his story. Our town became exposed when an exit on I-80 opened. The congenial preacher offered the man some food, which he declined. He was just passing through. As they exited the back door of the Narthex, the wanderer observed the war memorial. "That means something, doesn't it?" Rev. Hatch affirmed that many people died in that war, but then he also told him about Jesus dying. The man made no commitment, but told Rev. Hatch, "You're all right." and went on his way.
Not quite the evangelistic story of today, but I believe it is a story uplifting the spirit of keeping our churches open, along with our hearts, ready always to show love.