I woke up today with churches on my mind. I knew why, of course. Blake, my youngest son, began a long flight home from China Tuesday night. Good Lord willing, he will land in Atlanta Wednesday evening. My prayers for his safe journey have been winging their way skyward for several days. Blake is ending the third of a four-year committment to China, and I am so ready to see him. He comes home each summer for 6-8 weeks, and he will be spending two weeks with us on the island in July. My thoughts were to spend the afternoon photographing the three active churches on the island and the one inactive one. And while I was in each one, I could send a few more prayers up.
But first I had a lunch date. I met Carolyn at 1 p.m. for our postponed lunch from last week. It was so good to see her again. Carolyn spent the summer on the island last year working at The Grand Hotel Outlet Store, and she and I got to know each other through my countless visits combing through Grand Hotel cast-offs for the ultimate bargain. We went to Mary’s Bistro and sat outside on the patio so we could people watch as the ferries unloaded.
We swapped stories of husbands, children and grandchildren for over two hours. She and her family have been renting the same house downtown on Mackinac for five years, and she returned this year for the month of June. Different family members have shifted in and out during the month, with her husband spending as much time as he can with vacation days. I think Carolyn loves the island as much as I do. Before they started staying for a month, they would come for a few days each year, and they tried out every hotel and B&B on the island. When a few days just wasn’t enough, they began the hunt for a monthly rental. They found a great house right on the water downtown that now has a long waiting list of would-be renters. If you give your month up, you go to the bottom of the list again, so somebody in their family comes every June.
After lunch Carolyn was going up to The Grand to visit friends from last year, and I walked up Huron Street toward Mission Church, my first stop.
Mission Church, which holds no public services, is a popular spot for weddings. Built in 1829, it is the oldest surviving church building in Michigan. During a recent renovation effort, a campaign was launched to Adopt-A-Pew, and the original high-backed pews with doors were saved by generous donations. This was my first visit to the inside of the church, and as luck (or fate) would have it, an Amish family was visiting at the same time. Their style of clothing and the church’s simple furnishings seemed to blend together perfectly.
According to the sign at its entrance, The Little Stone Church was established in 1900 by 11 charter members, and local residents and summer visitors donated funds for its construction. It is built of Mackinac Island stones, and the stained glass windows, installed in 1914, tell the story of the Protestant movement on the island. It is open only during the summer, and is one of the most popular wedding sites on the island.
The building that currently houses St. Anne’s Catholic Church was built in 1878, but the Catholic roots of St. Anne’s go back to Father Dablon in the mid-1600’s. The first St. Anne’s church was built inside the walls of Fort Michilimackinac on the mainland, and it was one of the first buildings moved across the ice to the island when the British moved Fort Mackinac in 1779. Large private donations saved St. Anne’s from near-disaster when sections of the bell tower and the building were deteriorating. The church is the center of island activity during the winter, when people of all faiths meet together within its walls.
The church’s wedding brochure states that “Historic Ste. Anne’s church is perhaps the most romantic place in the world for the celebration of the marriage sacrament.” Romantic, yes; and breathtakingly beautiful.
My last stop was Trinity Episcopal Church, and it was closed to the public today. It was built in 1882, and has a large summer congregation. President Gerald Ford attended services here during his visit to the island as President.
I will make it a priority to come back to Trinity very soon and take some pictures inside and post them. If any of my blogging buddies out there feel moved to do so, I would appreciate you sending up a prayer for Blake’s safe journey. He is on my mind and heart tonight as I write this – something I know you mothers out there understand completely.
P.S. I have one more loop to jump through to get permission to start on my “Day in the Life Of” feature. If that works out, I will try next week to begin that series (one a week). Cross your fingers ’cause it is going to be so much fun if I get to do it. The carriage people even want me to come work in the horse barn one day mucking out stalls. I said “Wait, wait! I’m supposed to be writing ABOUT these jobs, not doing them!” This should really be interesting!
NOTE: Historical information on churches provided by Amy McVeigh’s Mackinac Connection: The Insider’s Guide to Mackinac Island.