Right in the Middle
Do you ever see those wide shots of the HP Pavilion/SAP Center in San Jose during the 95th Anniversary? Whenever I see one, I always look at the middle floor area and remember I got to sit there.
The west coast crowd in HP Pavillion during the 95th Anniversary Celebration.
We didn’t expect to sit there for the 95th Anniversary. Actually, we didn’t expect to sit at all. We had spent the past couple of weeks working on the gallery for the 95th. It had almost become a tradition — anniversary, big district events, etc. – district KADIWA was assigned to do the gallery. I can’t even remember if we volunteered the first time but the 95th was going to be our biggest one yet! [We we’re all excited and scared for the opportunity.]
<—95th Anniversary Gallery volunteers working into the night.
God’s Message Magazines became our ultimate source for this gallery. Back then there was no incmedia.org, so the Magazine and the Church News segment on the Message were our only source of what was going on in the Church especially in the West. It was a lot of digging, fortunately, we had a dedicated bunch of officers ready and willing to go the extra mile to make it work including reaching out to friends in distant countries, researching and building timelines, scanning every single historic photo and we even had a few guys volunteer to lend their brand new iPods (because one of the ideas was letting attendees hear the Doxology hymn in various languages). We wanted anyone who walked through to not only learn about the history but in some way experience just how far the Church had reached around the world.
The days leading to the 95th were a whirlwind. We spent most of our time at co-volunteers, Sister Arienne and Sister Diandra Jacinto’s house. Most of us were choir members and CWS teachers, so between preparing for the Anniversary Thanksgiving, we were mounting and cutting large prints onto foam core, typing out captions, laying out the gallery walls…it was hectic but I don’t really remember anyone complaining. In fact, we couldn’t get them to go home most of the time!
When it was finally time to set up, everyone took care of their various assignments – gallery walls were up and most of us had to move to our next assignment – welcoming committee. We had briefed everyone beforehand to welcome the attendees coming from various parts of the West Coast. We were sure most would likely not have a seat, but hopefully will have a chance to get inside at some point.
Show time: Gallery volunteers place the finishing touches before the exhibition opens to the public.—>
But it was one of those events where it seemed like everyone got in early, seats were filled around the arena, but for some reason there were a few rows on the floor that were previously reserved that were no longer needed. I was asked if I wanted to take them but it didn’t feel right for only a few of us to have seats so we asked how many of them were there –to our surprise, there was enough for all of us.
<—Attendees of the west coast celebration of the 95th Anniversary of the Church of Christ, enjoying the North America section of the Gallery.
I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s faces as we walked down to the floor seats. The jubilant smiles as we realized where we’d be sitting, it was like we won front row seats to the greatest event in the world. And on that day, it was.
The celebration was just what you could imagine for a day celebrating the milestone anniversary of the Church Of Christ –we watched stories from all over the world and saw performers from the West take part in the celebration in the Philippines. More importantly, we heard the words of God and united with all the members of the INC around the globe. We knew at that moment that that day would be among the stories we would one day put on a future gallery – maybe at the 50th Anniversary of the Church in the West.