1 What Does It Mean to be Fair Haven? Fair Haven was organized

What Does It Mean to be Fair Haven?
Fair Haven was organized on July 29, 1954. The founding pastor was Rev. Bryant Young. It
was his wife, Margie, who came up with the name Fair Haven. It is a biblical name with an
important role to play in the final chapter of the life of the Apostle Paul. It is found in the 27th
chapter of the biblical book of Acts.
Acts 27:8
Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the
city of Lasea.
Apostle Paul Under Arrest
Paul was on his way to Rome, under the guard of a Centurion named Julius. “It must have lifted
Paul’s spirits,” says historian William Barkley,” for Julius to have treated him with such
kindness and courtesy.” “It was as if,” said Barkley, “Julius as a man of great experience
recognized in Paul a man with bravery and determination to match his own.”
The Storm
After going up the coast to Sidon, they headed for Myra. The weather made for treacherous
sailing. They had to slip under Cyprus do some difficult maneuvering up the coast. When they
finally got to Myra, they boarded what was probably a ship loaded with corn. It was on its way
from Alexandria to Rome. Then things got even worse, with the overpowering West winds
blowing that time of year. They beat against the gales for many days before coming to the port
of Fair Havens, probably in a group of protective harbors. Paul wanted to stay there to winter.
But he was out voted three to one: by the ship’s owner; the corn merchant; and the Centurion.
So they sailed on. It wasn’t long before things got really rough. The author of the Book of Acts
reported these events in first person as a fellow traveler on that ship. Said Paul, “You should
have listened to me, and stayed.” But fortunately, no lives were lost, and Paul was able to preach
for two whole years in Rome under “house arrest” at the end of his last journey.
What Is A Haven?
It’s a place of safety, a place to draw strength for sailing, a place to be ready to lift sails into the
winds puffing us along on our faith journeys. The United Methodist Marriage Ceremony uses
the word “haven,” as the minister gives a blessing to the now married couple: “May your home
be a haven of blessing and a place of peace.”
Many Boats?
So, is Fair Haven a harbor, a good place for disciples of Jesus Christ to find belief, learn to love
Jesus and others, and find the strength to serve others in his name? Thought of that way, the boat
and wave image invites us to think of ourselves as little boats on the sea of life.
One Boat?
But may we also think of the church as one big boat doing God’s work? The early church
thought so. They often designed churches to look like boats turned upside down and sometimes
designed the ceilings of churches to look like the wooden bottom of a boat. A Third Century
document called the Apostolic Constitutions, is translated here from Latin: “Let the building be
oblong, toward the east, like a ship.”
What Is A Nave?
Interestingly, the part of the church where the people sit is sometimes called the nave, after the
word meaning ship. Our word Navy comes from it.
One may imagine the Fair Haven sanctuary as a large boat with long oars sticking out on each
side, with each one there pulling together to steer a straight course into God’s future.
Sometimes a believer may feel the wind of the Holy Spirit “puff the sail.” At other times, it may
seem like God just wants the people to row, pulling together as one. The designer of our boat
and wave image considered all this… and more.
How Should The Boat Look?
Working with staff and lay leadership, designer Tom Gibson put much thought into the image of
the boat and the water. Should there be waves? If so, how high should the crest of the waves
be? How should the boat look? Should it be a simple line drawing, or should the image be
fancy, large, or small? Should the sails be full or limp? What size should the cross be?
The Result
Looking carefully, one can see in the image: our sanctuary cross; a boat moving with sturdiness
and purpose; gently moving water in a “fair haven.” The boat is tacked into the wind, sailing out
into deeper faith waters from the safety of the harbor. It was designed as an invitation to hop in
the boat, hoist the sail, and cast off… toward the exciting future God has for Fair Haven United
Methodist Church. There’s plenty of room for all.