After being a member of my home church, Foothills Mennonite in Calgary, Alberta, for 5 years I’m starting to wonder when I’m going to get my own mailbox. It’s not that I have a lot of mail to collect or that I dislike sharing a mailbox with my parents. It’s that getting your own church mailbox is a sort of right-of-passage for the young Christian. At least that’s the way it has always been presented to me. But apparently my home church in Calgary doesn’t “hand out” mailboxes willy-nilly.
3 years ago when I decided to attend the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba, my dream of having a mailbox at Foothills was shelved. “Why should I have my own mailbox when I’m not there for 8 months of the year?” I said. My decision to stay in Winnipeg this year and work with the Federal Government over the summertime helped subside the feelings of mailbox disenfranchisement at Foothills…until last week when at Bethel Mennonite, the church I semi-regularly attend in Winnipeg while I study at CMU, gave me my own mailbox after I made an off-hand remark to their Senior pastor that I wanted to get a little more involved by attending Adult Bible study.
I went from mailboxless to mailboxed after my first conversation with the Senior Pastor of Bethel Mennonite. After taking my name and phone number into his pocket address book he said, “If you’re going to be around in the summer, I’ll get you a mailbox.”
All of a sudden I’m back in that awkward moment in elementary school when you’re passed the “Do you like me?” note with the multiple choice answers, “Yes, No, Maybe”. You’re not sure what “yes” all entails. You don’t want to put “No”. But “Maybe” isn’t any better. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.
I now have all these strange feelings concerning my 3cm by 15cm mailbox in the foyer of Bethel. I mean… I didn’t ask for it! The thought of having one never even crossed my mind! Am I ready for a mailbox in a church that I am not even a member of? What will this do to my membership at Foothills? What will my pastor in Calgary think?!
Alright, alright…perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic. But I had always envisioned my first church mailbox being given to me in some sort of ceremonious way. Perhaps an unveiling or some sort of announcement on a Sunday morning. Apparently that’s not how mailboxes are handed out at either Foothills or Bethel.
Considering how I’ve always percieved mailboxes to be a permanent sign of one’s membership in a particular church, and the fact that I’ve been waiting for one in my home church for so long…I’m sure you can understand my cocktail of emotions.
On the one hand I like my new mailbox in this new church. I mean, if my home church can’t give me one the church where I attend on a semi-regular basis, at best, offer me one then why should I not accept it?
On the other hand, I don’t want to be confused as being a member of Bethel when I am not. Despite my lack of mailbox, I love my home church in Calgary.
Is there any sort of mailbox etiquette/unwritten rule/code of conduct that I’ve just violated? Should I keep my Bethel Mennonite mailbox a secret? (That being said, I guess it’s too late now, huh?) This is where I need some advice from the bottomless pit of wisdom that is the YAR. If you feel so inclined to comment, please do. I need all the help I can get right now.
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And whosover shall request of thee a mailbox, give unto them twain, one for the dry season, and one for the season of rain. Give to them that asketh thee, give, and it shall be given unto thee mail in abundance, mail that is real, and not the mail which offer thee cards of credit or other such false meat(*). Give, and thy mailbox shall be full to overflowing with messages from the angels of assembly (**).
* a type of spiced meat-like substance, sold in cans
** some witnesses read: church bulletins
Oh Dylan, you have done it! Thank you for writing in such a comical way that I had to laugh. Will, as well.
I feel the “mailbox madness,” too. For years, my church didn’t have mailboxes, partly because we didn’t have our own building. When we moved into our building a few years back, we used this wooden rack as the mailbox center. It was basically a bookshelf with more shelves. I can’t recall how long I shared a mail slot with my parents and four sisters, but it wasn’t interminable. I still lived with them, so it made sense.
Then someone realized the wooden shelf made it too complicated to add people in and take others out. We were getting an influx of people then, many of whom were college students whose parents attended elsewhere. They couldn’t be categorized under their parents.
So now we have this hanging file system. Your mailbox is a file with your name on it. I have my own file, as does my 21-year-old sister who lives with our parents and has no desire to leave. It may not look as pretty as a polished wooden bookshelf, but since when have Anabaptists enschewed the utilitarian? We now use the bookshelf for a more traditional purpose: holding books in the church library.
Getting a mailbox was a pretty big deal for me . . . I was asked if I wanted one, and I said yes, but wow. It felt like a big deal.
Granted, this was a church not connected to my parents, that I’d chosen to attend on my own. I’m not sure what the whole transitioning from your parents’ mailbox must be like . . . it sounds like it could be tricky.
Perhaps not having enough mailboxes could limit members from joining….
At our church if you get married you get your own box, if you are a member you get your own box, and if you stick around long enough and still aren’t a member, you might get one too if there is room. Else it’s general delivery for you. Saw a huge Mennonite church with a 10 foot hanging file system in their foyer with all kinds of stuff in it. Works great and easy to add and delete people and keep it in alpha order. Best system yet if you have a foyer with the room.