Aldersgate celebrated 115 years of serving its congregations and the community the summer of 2013. During that time, the church has had three names and three locations. The Normal Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1898 and took its name from the Lincoln Normal University located in the vicinity of 56th and South Streets. Bryan Memorial Methodist Church became the official name of the congregation following the union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Methodist Protestant Church in 1939. The move to 6140 South Street took place on February 22, 1959. The congregation became the Aldersgate United Methodist Church when it moved to the current location at 84th and South Streets on Easter Sunday 1970.
By the late 1980s, Aldersgate had shown steady growth and often could not seat everyone at special events such as Christmas programs. In 1995 Aldersgate constructed a new sanctuary with plans of achieving a membership of 400.
This history reflects a long commitment to East Lincoln and a tradition of adapting to change.
This tradition is in evidence today as the congregation responds to the dual challenge of renovating an aging facility and renewing its sense of purpose.
Symbolism of Worship Center
“The Lord said to Moses: ‘Tell the Israelites to make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them. In accordance with all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.’” Exodus 25:1a, 8-9
We began using our Worship Center in 1996. Like other worship spaces around the world, it is filled with symbolism. The symbolism is very old, and yet very non-traditional.
In the Bible, the book of Exodus tells with story of a group of newly-liberated slaves journey from Egypt back toward their homeland, Israel. In chapters 25-26, Moses is given directions by God how to build a dwelling place, a tabernacle for God where offerings can be made and where God can have contact with the people. It was to be portable, for they were a people on the move, ready to go whenever God called.
It is this story that inspired Aldersgate to model our worship space after that tabernacle. The shape of the Worship Center or sanctuary (sacred place or place apart) is the shape of a tent. The curtains are like the sides of the tent and reflect the curtains of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:1). The tan border of the carpets and stone tiles around the outside walls simulates the desert sands on which the tent stands. Symbolically, it remind us that we, too, are a people on the move and that God is always with us in the midst of continuing change.
A temporary wall cuts into the space in the northeast corner to create a Youth Room on the other side of the wall. On the Sanctuary side the nook created has become a Prayer Corner for personal meditation and prayer.
Three stained glass windows, donated by TierOne Bank, have been added to enhance the beauty of the space. Their blues, purples, reds and golds reflect the colors used in the original tabernacle (Exodus 25:3-4).
Internally, flexibility is the main feature. Our space is designed for us to be participants rather than spectators, All the furnishings are moveable and the space can be adapted to a wide variety of uses and worship experiences.
The Arrayments, the hanging and placed decorations, change with the seasons and with worship themes. They underscore the vision of flexibility and change.
The original worship area, now the Fellowship Hall, is an octagon. This space, along with the courtyards follows that same shape. Two more stained glass windows, also donated by TierOne Bank, decorate that space.