Humbled and Grateful
The morning of this writing I stood in our new lobby. What I saw was totally amazing. Over the past few days volunteers have been assembling furniture and decorating.
Their creativity and devotion amaze me. A core team of five or six people put out the word for volunteers to gather last Tuesday night. More than twenty-five persons were present. Even ladies brought tools. Teenagers participated. It was an unbelievable evening of excitement and fellowship. The place was buzzing! New friendships were formed.
Shopping has been done strategically and economically. Sales and using coupons kept prices low and with freebies of plants, etc. Trips to Habitat thrift store and shopping on Craigslist made possible purchases of tables, chairs, desks at a fraction of retail cost. Items from the University of Virginia salvage were donated.
Yes, lots of elbow grease to clean. Sand. Prime. Paint. Seal. The end result is items that look new! Beautiful---for pennies on the dollar!
But this was not done just to have a beautiful large lobby. It was done for a very practical reason. Twenty-three years our two buildings were separated by about eighty feet. Children in one building. Adults in the other building. Walking through rain, snow, cold, heat to connect. Newcomers hesitant to be separated that far from their children. Awkward.
Folks did not complain, but we knew it was a liability. We felt the pain every time a parent was called out of worship for their child. We felt the pain when visitors graciously left their child(ren) and made the journey to the sanctuary complex.
Engineering, soil tests, water control, ad infinitum, issues perplexed and cost tens of thousands of dollars. We plodded along. Agonizingly struggling for a dream. The architect and engineer graciously adjusted and adapted plans. Finally picking up approved building permits from the County was a celebratory experience.
We hired a contractor. It was a disappointment. God graciously spared us financially. Danny Bare, one of our Elders, had a construction company. He agreed to be the liaison between the church and a new contractor. Except, no new contractor materialized. The VP for the lending bank made clear that he trusted Danny.
The first year of construction was most challenging. We decided to dig about 14' beneath the parsonage. With sides and roof of the parsonage propped up, machines crawled down into a hole and brought out a bucket of dirt at a time.
Then the rain came. More rain. Water in the hole. Cold weather. Mud. It seemed forever before concrete was poured at the bottom making possible an elevator to all levels of our complex.
We needed a mason. I called my niece and her husband in North Carolina. They own one of the largest masonry companies on the East Coast, Stone by Lynch and Design, LLC. They brought their five girls and came to visit. Because of their love for God they made an incredibly generous offer for the masonry and elevator shaft about 50 feet tall.
Steel came. A company owned by Christian brothers helped us save thousands of dollars. They were a blessing and patient.
Summer. Winter. Spring. Fall. Two years. Sundays would come. Danny, his crew and volunteers would put together temporary sidewalks, boards, railings for access. Only two Sundays of the entire construction were we restricted from entering through the front doors of the construction area!
Folks never complained. Volunteers [most of them teenagers] showed up early on Sundays to address items needed to make entrance safe. With water on the walkway and stepping carefully in awkward areas, folks greeted each other with joy, celebrated, worshipped, tithed, contributed to missions and supported the building project.
No fussing. No awkward committee meetings. No Elders' meetings with dissension. I left Elders' meetings feeling as if I had been in revival. Their stability, faith, and resolve encouraged me.
I recount all this to say this: The last Sunday of this month, September 29 at 10 AM we will do a ribbon-cutting! We will officially recognize the date as God's providence and blessing.
Mark your calendar to be there for this event. More details will be shared this Sunday.
There will be another date for a formal dedication.
My prayer is that we will be able to bring Elder Thurman Henry from a care facility for this occasion. He has been an Elder of Covenant Church since 1952 and is a prince in the Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He and eleven other adults met in 1952 in a rented room of a small grocery store to cast vision for a church in Charlottesville.
Yes, I stood in the lobby and marveled. It is more than I dreamed. Frankly, its beauty and functionality surpasses what we dreamed. We are astounded. It is beyond my most creative thoughts. Inviting. Inspiring. Offering hope to all who enter to worship.
With joy I ask God to give us a harvest of souls as sweet reward for our labors. I also ask God to give us wisdom to "make disciples” (Matthew 28:19,20).
For this reason we have sacrificed!
Humbled and grateful I am...WE ARE!
Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. Ps. 92:13