North Campus Sanctuary Delivers Continuity, Solace
By Michael Barber, Firstnews Editor
All eyes turn to the back of the sacred space. It’s a moment anticipated by many for decades.
A man dressed elegantly for his daughter’s wedding leans to whisper. The bride wipes a tear from her cheek as she smiles and nudges his shoulder, acknowledging his meaningful words.
Both are poised, standing near a baptismal font artfully crafted of stone. They await their cue from a wedding coordinator who orchestrates the event accompanied by the dramatic tone of a mighty pipe organ.
As the music swells, those in attendance remember the bride as an infant, baptized in the very font she now passes. She and her father make their way down an aisle paved with cherished memories. Thoughts of her first Christmas Musical and a Third-Grade Bible presentation blend seamlessly with Block of Wood Sunday, Mexico Mission send-offs and now…this special occasion.
It’s a full-circle celebration for a grateful church family gathered in the North Campus Sanctuary.
Rev. Deborah Lindsay sees this vision as one made possible by the realization of a new sacred space. “It feels to me to be the type of continuity and ritual that we’ve not been able to have at North Campus,” she said. “There are virtually no weddings there. We have an entire generation that has grown up in Grace Hall. This is where you want to have continuity.”
The benefits of a new sanctuary are not limited to momentous occasions. Weekly Sunday worship is greatly enhanced by the expansion.
Ron Jenkins, Minister of Music and Liturgy, sees the sanctuary as an opportunity to better connect those leading the worship with the larger congregation.
“A North Campus Sanctuary will be a room that actually inspires,” Ron said. “We’ll have a good acoustic for singing, praying and speaking. Currently, we have to work really hard to create a sacred experience in Grace Hall.” Practically speaking, a North Campus Sanctuary allows those responsible for resetting Grace Hall for Sunday worship more breathing room between events.
“Resetting involves moving 500 chairs, stacking them six-high and finding a place to hide them,” said Pam Jameson,Director of Facilities Ministry. “We have no storage. Chairs and platforms are stored all over the building.”
Within a four week period, the facilities staff will spend approximately 50 hours transforming Grace Hall a total of 10 times. They will accommodate four worship services, a Spiritual Searcher event, a pancake dinner, choir, a beach party, a pasta dinner, Ash Wednesday and a barbeque.
“A North Campus Sanctuary will provide a greater opportunity for church events, special occasions and wedding receptions in Grace Hall,” Pam said. “We have a loved church. Many requests for special occasions are turned down. A sanctuary adds tremendous value for our congregation.”
Rev. Lindsay said she is constantly connecting her own personal experiences at South Campus with the opportunities for future generations to build their own memories at North.
“On Christmas Eve, when standing at the back of South Campus Sanctuary, I can look over and see the same pew where I sat with my mother in church,” Rev. Lindsay said. “That’s what makes a place sacred.”
“I can see in my mind’s eye the stories being remembered 25 years from now; a continuing story of families and our church. The North Campus Sanctuary will be a place that feels like home.”