September 2, 2011 Architecture As Witness
A flurry of activity over the past few weeks led to a key moment in the construction of our new facilities at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon. The general contractor threw his “Topping Out” party and we’re officially down to the fine details.
The fine details, of course, will take the best part of a month to complete, but it’s all downhill from here.
Officially, “topping out” is supposed to celebrate a building that is dried in and secure from the elements. In reality, this milestone means that we also have electricity, air-conditioning, windows, doors and that the plumbing is pretty much finished up too.
Flooring is going down, there’s paint on the walls, appliances are moving in to the kitchen. They’re working on the landscaping as well, along with the new entrance and sidewalks and such. Exciting stuff all around!
“Topping Out” is a contractor party. It’s thrown by the construction folk for all the people who have been working at the site. Employees, sub-contractors, inspectors etc. If they want to – and this isn’t always the case – they invite the people who are paying for the work, too. Our contractor graciously invited a handful of folk from the church that included Rebekah and me, so I thought I’d share a few pictures in this blog.
A whole bunch of doors – above – were set up in the hall for finish work. I thought they made great ecclesiastical art. One of my favorite scriptures is the John 1o passage where Jesus talks about being the gate, the entry point for the Kingdom of God. I like the image of our church serving that role for so many people who are exploring their spirituality and what it means to live in relationship to God.
Our builder used the opportunity to share his testimony with the assembled workers. What Jim did was to provide an excellent barbecue lunch and preach a ten-point sermon while everyone was eating. It’s definitely one approach to telling the Gospel story.
But what really gave me pause, as I walked around the facility, was the fact that this building is a profound statement of faith. The quality of the work, the way we are committed to making the facilities accessible to so many community groups, the training in discipleship that will take place, the evidence that First Presbyterian of Brandon is active in this community and working to raise the standard of life in Brandon.
It all speaks to the transformational love of God that has so taken hold of us all here.
One element I’m very pleased with is the “Coffee Bar” area, right in the middle of all the downstairs classrooms. The design of the structure is built around our recognition of the value of community-building as a key building block in discipleship. The hallways, the stairwell landings, the entry points… these are all larger than minimum code requirements and conducive to gathering.
The Campbell Discipleship Center is beautiful, yes, but it’s very much a practical design that facilitates community. Some of the key attributes, for me, are:
- Natural Gathering Points
I really love the fact that it doesn’t have any of the “Don’t touch this it’s too nice” feel that many church projects often come with. It fits the personality of our congregation and the thrust of our witness.
This last picture is of the new north entrance, being carved out as we speak. One more interface with our community from a church campus that is improving constantly. I pray that the way we live out our discipleship will also continue to move forward; bright, airy, inviting, accessible, community-friendly – telling the truth about JESUS.