(RNS) — The Baptist church I attended with my family as a girl in The Middle of Nowhere, Maine, was a one-room affair. The old clapboard building had no running water and — until we raised enough funds for an addition — no bathroom but the outhouse at the back corner. An old hitching post rose from the ground next to the granite front steps, a reminder of congregants long ago who once traveled on horseback to worship.

A tiny vestibule opened into an airy sanctuary, filled to the brim with three sections of white wooden pews. Two side aisles led to the platform where the altar stood sentinel in front of a rustic maple Communion table.

As a young girl, I spent many a Sunday service fretting about being married in that church someday. Every wedding I’d ever read about or watched on television depicted the bride walking gracefully down a middle aisle, straight toward the altar, pews on either side evenly surrounding her like the parted waves of the Red Sea.

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