Ivy & Innocence The Old Ivy Church by Susan Reader

~ Chapter Ten ~

The Old Ivy Church

As soon as The Olde Ivy School had been built, the next order of business was to erect a church.

The location was picked and a small committee sketched and re-sketched the design until the exact building was agreed upon. If good weather prevailed through summer and fall, Ivy would have their church for Christmas.

Trees for the timber-frame beams and posts were marked and felled, and a temporary saw mill was created on the site. A team of oxen began carrying to foundation rock from a small quarry, and  the timbers were dragged to the mill. The ladies set up an outdoor kitchen and served meals each day. Personal sacrifices were never discussed; everyone simply pitched in to complete the church in time for Christmas.

It was early November when Dick Bracken and his young son Joseph set off for Chicago to pick up the windows that had been special ordered. By the end of the month; Silas Poole had finished the pews and the huge double doors, and Jim Farley wrought iron for hardware and lights. Soon the first bitter winds of winter whistled a warning through the windowless church. Where were the Brackens?

A few minutes after sundown on December 15th, Joseph Bracken rang the school bell as they entered town. Twice they had been forced to stop for repairs, but now sixteen gorgeous windows were in Ivy, ready to be set, shimmed, sealed and trimmed out. By the end of the next day the craftsmen had completed their job and Ivy had its first church.

Joseph Bracken, now grown, and his wife Priscilla, have tow lovely daughters. Dorothy and Joan. The entire family delights in the tradition of reenacting the finishing of the Old Church. The festivities begin each year on December 15th when a student is chosen to ring the school bell, as Joseph and his dad had done years before.

The children of Ivy troop into the woods and gather pine boughs for decorating the church. Evergreens are placed at the base of each window and white bows are added, as they have been every year since the church was completed.

Mrs. Bracken and the other church women make red candles, signifying the warmth the window provide, to be placed in each window except the four in the spire (for safety’s sake) and the round one, high up over the alter. Since it isi round and signifies eternal love, it is considered God’s window and only his light should shine through.

Joan Bracken, as the youngest member of the choir, has the honor of lighting the candle in the window over the front door, which illuminates the choir loft. Joan, holding her Teddy named Tom, joins in the caroling along with her older sister Dorothy and her classmates created a Nativity scene that they placed in front of the church.

The final remaining tradition is to hand a little red heart on the side of the building opposite God’s window, signifying that his love shines through on everyone, no matter what their race or religion.

Mr. and Mrs. Bracken take a quiet stroll around Ivy on Christmas Eve, looking elegant in their holiday best. They, and all the folks in Ivy, wish you the happiest of holidays.

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4-pc Set Includes:
The Old Ivy Church 05330, Joseph & Priscilla Bracken 05331, Dorothy & Joan Bracken 05332, and Away In A Manger 05334.

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