Cleanup Interview by Kathleen McAnear Smith

It was a Saturday morning in the ancient church on top of the mountain in Sant El’Piddio a Mare, Italy. Busy busy. A young woman was polishing brasses, a man was hoovering, another man dusting; and in the centre of it all was Don Enzo the Priest. Don Enzo was directing the traffic of the flowers coming in and being placed on the altar. A little to the left. A little to the right. 
I had tried to sit quietly on one of the pews but I find it difficult to rest when everyone else is working. I walked to the back of the sanctuary, feeling a pang of guilt. I didn’t feel guilty about dusting the renaissance paintings. I knew Don Enzo enough to to know he had his team and they are well trained to do exactly what was needed for mass on Sunday. 
 No, I was feeling guilt about a small village church back where we live in England. St Lawrence in Seale is a beautiful medieval church. It’s the beautiful quiet in a crazy, noisy world. And when had I ever volunteered to assist with a Saturday prep for Sunday? Never would be the answer. Like the Italian church, our church would be too much for one person to dust, Dysen and disinfect. 
Surely there was someone who organised the interior upkeep? As per usual in my experience, it turned out the work fell to one or two people in the congregation. Always the same people, plus the Rector. The Rector has been seen to direct Sunday preparations, and hoover until the battery needed recharging. Could we get a little larger team work going here? 
 As I would rather write than dust, I’ve decided that (Okay, I will sign up to my fair share of church clean) I’m going to write an interview for the village magazine. I will try not to say we should be more like an Italian village. I’m thinking about taking the angle of how much fun we’d have gossiping…I mean sharing local news, cup of tea- something! I’m hoping to interview the two people who already do this cleaning regularly and ask them what would make this activity a fun morning. I mean, if it’s not fun we don’t do it these days do we? 
I’ve written interviews for quite large Christian magazines and even a newspaper syndicate but writing an interview for the local village magazine is a new challenge. Bit scary really. What if no one speaks to me in the tearoom ever again? What if I offend someone? The Story Telling for Non-Profits website ( ) recommends preparing your questions beforehand, but I’m a little stumped at the moment. How to raise awareness of what our beautiful church needs, when everyone is already working all the hours God gives? It seems far more complicated to write an interview with and for the people with whom you live so closely. I understand that the best interviews are those that tell a story, but which story will encourage and not shame people into caring for the traditional centre of our community? The gathering church that most people now seem to avoid? We had fifteen people in church last Sunday. Is cleaning a form of out reach? Interviews of strangers are considered challenging for most people, but I am finding interviewing people who live around the corner even more of a challenge. Am I stirring things up, or encouraging community service? 
Have you ever written for your local community? Did they publish it, or ask you to leave town? Father God, please help me to write in such a way that our community will want to gather to worship you and care for the sanctuary right here in our local village. For Jesus’ sake, Amen Kathleen has started a new website called Global Grandmas ( ), where she hopes to sell her books on family life, published by Destiny Image.

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