The Building Project

Nick MartineauBlog

The Building Project

Recently, a Hopester wrote some thoughts on our Raising More Hope building campaign. I thought you all would enjoy reading this…Nick

A long time ago in a galaxy far away (well, actually it was this galaxy, but at least I caught your attention), I had a friend of mine whose father had died.  This particular dad had made a point numerous times that when his time came, he didn’t want a big fuss and certainly didn’t want a lot of money spent.  “Just bury me in a pine box and be done with it,” he’d say whenever the subject came up and like most people a little too fixated on death, the subject came up a lot.  So after his demise, the family decided to make his posthumous wishes happen, but there was a problem.  When the family met with the funeral director they found out that the State of California had a lot of regulations on burials and coffin construction.  Their father could be buried in a pine box, but the box would have to be custom made and would be considerably more expensive than an off-the-shelf (so to speak) coffin.  This left the family in something of a quandary…

I was thinking about that story this morning at church.  It appears that we are about to raise money for a new building campaign.  Now I don’t mind telling you that I’m considerably older than I look, or so I tell myself every morning when I see my reflection in the mirror.  I’ve lived long enough and moved around enough that I’ve belonged to six different churches in my adult life, and my current gig at my current church has lasted for sixteen years.  That’s the longest I’ve been at any church and, the good Lord willing, they will bury my tired old bones here (not literally of course, as Kansas has some strict burial regulations as well).  When it comes to building campaigns, this isn’t my first rodeo.

Of course, the church leaders are asking for everyone’s support and they made quite an impressive argument this morning.  Each person has to make up his/her own mind on whether they will support the project.  For me as a parishioner, there are two ways to analyze the problem.  The first method (and the one that appeals to the engineer in me) is to view this as something of a math problem, adding up the all the positives and negatives and determining if the final tally supports the construction.  The biggest point on the plus side of the ledger is the current facility itself.  It’s a nice facility, but even sardines would start to feel a little claustrophobic given the crowds we’re trying to shoehorn into the building every Sunday morning.  Weekdays aren’t much better.  Weaving through the wave of humanity on a Wednesday evening can feel a little like dodging the citizens of Tokyo running from Godzilla.  We’ve got room on the property to expand, so what’s not to like?  Well, there’s that small item of the price tag, with early estimates coming in at about five times our annual budget.  To do the “math” method of analysis would require considerably more effort than I’ve put in here, but you get the idea.

The other method is the “gut” method. I probably shouldn’t admit this, because such a confession might get me kicked out of the engineering division of the Illuminati (shhhh!), but I’m rather fond of the gut method. It’s a lot less work and my gut is usually right about these things.  Right now, my gut is telling me that this is the right thing to do, although I confess that my gut might have been swayed by my seating choice this morning.  I sat next to my best friend, a thoroughly decent and noble man who outweighs me by about a hundred pounds.  In such circumstances, more space always seems like a good idea.  Maybe I should sleep on it before really making up my mind.

Which brings us back to the funeral in California.  The current plan is for a sanctuary that is built as a barn-style construction.  This would fit the church’s personality perfectly and might be even more attractive than the current facility.  Back in the day, this style of construction made a lot of sense.  Timber was plentiful and cheap and if you had the right craftsmen around, you could build it in a day and make a party out of the whole process.  Nowadays, timber isn’t so cheap and craftsmen tend to be a little pricey as well.  Barns, like pine boxes just aren’t as economical as they used to be.

So, what did my friend’s family do?  They forked over the extra money and got the pine box. It was the least they could do for their dad.

So, I’ll sleep on it, but I know which way I’m leaning.  Time to get the pine box.


David Pettus