Today was the last day that Port City Community Church will have met at Roland-Grise Middle School.  It was a bittersweet affair.  Amanda and I arrived early and saw Blake and Stephanie Konny.  They usually go to the 10:30 service, but Blake, a high school science teacher by trade, was working at a fireworks tent, what with the 4th of July coming up and all.  I took a bulletin from a guy wearing a Duke shirt (and complimented him on it) then we waited a couple minutes until the doors to the auditorium were opened.

The bulletin had a place for you to write about a time when the church has been there for you, whether it was a person or an event or whatever, then on the other side it had a place for you to put your address, and it was explained that one day they would be mailed back to you.  Amanda and I both ended up writing about how we had nothing when we first got to Wilmington and started attending Port City Community Church, and the first series was about money.  We started to tithe, and even though we weren’t sure how we’d be able to pay the bills that month, everything always worked out fine.  The next few series all seemed to speak directly to us too.

I also wrote about when Amanda had her surgery and how all our friends were there for us, not only helping us out and feeding us, but also praying for us and asking others to pray for us too. It really spoke to the community we’ve built up around us and the good friends we’ve been blessed with in just a few years.  I also expressed that I hope, going forward, that other people will be able to find friends, community and God like we have.

The music was awesome of course.  The series leading up to today was called Moments, and they incorporated today, a bit of a retrospective and a chance to look forward, as an extension of that theme.  The video bump was modified too.  It showed various people from around the church, including Joey Connelly and Parrish Stikeleather, all talking about some of the things the church has done for them with scenes from Roland-Grise on a screen behind them.  One of the songs sang was Love Song, which is a very powerful song.  When our preacher, Mike Ashcraft, came out he opened quoting a lone from that song: "You paint the sky for me to see."  He got little choked up from the start there, but he recovered and went on just fine.  Mike also had a guy, could have been a comedian but I’m guessing he was at least a writer, stand up and talk about his memories of Roland-Grise.  It was also very bittersweet.

For the main part of the message Mike had four moving boxes labeled People, Process, Faith and, dangit, I can’t recall the last one right now.  Anyway, he had these large labels with words on them, and he would talk about what the word meant and put it into a box.  At the end of the service he packed up the boxes, revealing a related word, then stacked them up and walked off stage with them, as leaving the Roland-Grise Middle School auditorium for the last time.  It was a very powerful image to me.

Of course, it wasn’t the last time he walked off that stage- he did it three more times that day, and Nick Warkentien told us that at the last, special 2:30 service they did something a little special and different.  Mike always talked about how the band wouldn’t let him play with them anymore, but halfway through the song they did at the end, All Because of Jesus, a bit of a rock-out song by Steve Fee, Chris had Mike come out and play guitar with the rest of the band.  Attendance wasn’t very high for that service, but I’ll bet everyone whooped it up when Mike went out there to rock out with the band.

A funny side story about the guitar Mike used.  Nick and Amy had been at a birthday party on Friday and Tim and Duane, two staff members, talked about this pink guitar they had passed around.  Duane was surprised Tim had it and said they had to find a way to work it into the weekend service.  And that pink guitar was the one Mike played on.

There were other really cool things about the service, like a recounting of all the places PC3 has been held up to now and some great memories.  All in all it was a wonderful service, and while I won’t miss setting up equipment at 6:00 on Sunday mornings, I think we’ll all miss a little bit of the guerilla style church we’ve become accustomed to.

So that was PC3’s final service at Roland-Grise.

After church Amanda and I went to breakfast at The Oceanic.  I wanted the French toast.  Amanda had a few bites of it but mainly ate her bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, though she said the bread was a little too buttery for her.  There was a couple next to us with two small kids- one a tiny baby and the other about two and a half years old.  The older kid was talking the whole time, looking out at the beach and commenting on things.  He was a trip to watch and it made me wish Andra had consented to letting us have Jackson this weekend.  We’ll get to see him tomorrow though.

When we finished eating we walked back to Anna and Barry’s, where we had parked.  We were going to go out on the beach, but I was stuffed and being stuffed and sitting out in the blazing sun is not an appealing idea.  So we stayed inside with them for a while then finally went out.  I didn’t surf- I just didn’t have the energy, but I did go jump some waves.  In fact, I had the best wave jumping experience I ever had.  Usually you just let the wave take you, with the foam roiling on your back and over your head.  I caught one wave where my body was literally riding on top of it, above it all.  When I first caught it my natural instinct was to close my eyes and get ready to go under, but I stayed on top until the wave ran out.  It doesn’t sound significant, and it’s hard to really describe, but it was a really cool feeling.

I talked to a guy who was out there with some friends.  He said they’d all moved away but couldn’t stay gone from Wilmington and had all moved back some time ago.  He said something about being from Cary his family living in Durham, so I asked if he was a Duke fan.  He said he was, then pointed to his friends.  He said, "That one’s an asshole, that one pulls for Georgia Tech and that one goes for Maryland."  I told him I could take Georgia Tech, but the other two….

Amanda spent all her time, and has spent a lot of time, reading I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.  When I told her I was ready to go she even told me she wanted to finish a chapter.  It’s so cool to see Amanda that much into a book.  Not long after we first started dating we both went to a bookstore and bought a book each.  I don’t think she ever got more than a couple chapters into hers.  She just generally doesn’t like to read, but she’s really enjoying that book.

After leaving there we went to Old Navy because they were having a really good sale.  I got a shirt and Amanda got a skirt and a couple shirts or something.  I was so worn out that I eventually went out to the car and waited for her.  Not that she took too long or anything- I just didn’t feel like standing anymore.  After that we went to Target to get some shampoo, deodorant and the like for the trip to Kentucky.  We left there and went to get Baba a present at Airlie Moon then headed home to start packing.

Nick and Amy had tried calling us a few times, so we finally got up with them at home (my phone died, but they had our home and cell phones backwards anyway) and we decided to go eat with them.  We were going to go to this Italian place by Food Lion, up College about a mile or so but they weren’t open.  So we went to try Priddy Boy’s in Castle Hayne and it was closed.  They originally wanted to go to Flamin’ Amy’s, so we ended up going back into town to eat there.

When we got to Flamin’ Amy’s Amanda and I were at the door before Nick and Amy, so Amanda threw her arms out in Amy’s direction.  Amy ran towards Amanda, scooped her up and spun her around, which took Amanda a little by surprise.  It was funny.  We had a good time eating with them, then afterwards we walked to their car because they were going to let us borrow the new Coldplay CD, Viva La Vida.  Everyone was saying good byes and all, and since we’ve hung out with them enough I figured Nick and I were past the handshake stage so I gave him a manhug.  When I was pulling back from that I knocked his cup of water and spilled a little on me, so we decided maybe we weren’t supposed to be manhugging.

On the way home Amanda and I stopped by the new church building.  I’d mentioned to Mike Ashcraft this morning that I hadn’t been in it yet and he said something about stopping by and if people were there we could look around.  Well, we got there and one of the front doors was open, but we didn’t see anybody until we stepped into the auditorium, which was massive.  And then we only found a guy who was hooking up the sound and had no idea who we were talking about when we mentioned Mike Ashcraft (obviously doesn’t attend PC3).  So we poked around a little, although Amanda didn’t feel we should poke around too much so we didn’t stay long.  I took a picture of the auditorium from the stage and a picture of the hall where the Grow Zone rooms will be.  It’s such an awesome building, and we, as a church body, as blessed to have such a place to call home in the future.

Back home Amanda commenced packing.  I put more gook on the back of the faucet and returned the allen wrench to Dave across the street.  While there, I told Bonnie we had some stuff to show her with the security system, so she came over a little later.  She told me while I was there that she was having a cyst removed from her back on Tuesday, so we’ll keep her in our prayers for that.

She left and we spent the rest of the night packing and doing light cleaning.  Karen, Amanda’s mom, called.  Actually, she’d called around 11:00 last night to tell us she was staying in town for the night.  I offered her a bed, but she stayed and slept on Michael’s couch (though he offered her his bed).  They stayed up until 2:30 in the morning cleaning and such.  Anyway, on her way home she hit a bad storm.  Branches were coming down and one hit the car in front of her.  It turns out there had been a tornado right where she was going through.  We’re thankful there was no incident for her.

Well, I’ve got a little running around to do tomorrow then we’re off to Rougemont, then Lexington.

Zach Dotsey

  We had a good time eating with them.  When we were done they let us borrow the new Cold Play CD then we were all giving hugs good bye