Local communities are about people. But is that all?
It is interesting to note how many Unitarian websites have the picture of a building on their home page. I considered this for ours and decided against it - I wanted the community to appear to be bigger than just the building. I also purposefully chose the domain name 'staffordshire-unitarans.net' to denote that people came from all over Staffordshire (and some from Cheshire but that would make the name a bit long) and to denote a network rather than .org or .co for an organisation or a company. Perhaps people don't notice those things but it was important for me - I wanted the greatest flexibility and the greatest sense of inclusion.
And yet ... I was at the Meeting House yesterday with Barbara, cleaning up. We hadn't done it properly for a couple of months so although it was tidy it was a little grubby in corners. It looked lovely afterwards. I have to say that the Meeting House does make my heart sing and my soul smile. Some people are unemotional about buildings but I expect that the vast majority of us are very fond, perhaps even love, some buildings and not just our own homes.
Our Meeting House was built on a shoestring in 1717 so it is not per se a beautiful building. I am not a particularly visual person and cannot imagine any photograph could encapsulate what I feel about the Meeting House or the chapel within it. When we use the word 'home' we can feel a warm fuzziness full of emotional content. How would I encapsulate that for our beloved Meeting House? Perhaps I don't have to. Perhaps people have to experience it themselves.
So back to the original question - is a community just about people? I don't think so. It is about how humans and their sacred space interact. To some extent the building represents the continuity of the community. Whilst we may disagree about how much importance, time, effort and money we expend on our buildings, we recognise their importance to that thing that we call spiritual community.