Have a Little Faith

Construction 20160805I want to think I’ve totally rationalized this expansion. I arrived Wednesday at church thinking this is the day they’ll do this or that, only to be surprised.

I know how to cook a brisket, rewire an electrical outlet, even build a shed. But I don’t know how the contractors are going to build our new addition. Sure, I can look at the plan…all sixty pages of them. But there are things going on that aren’t in the plans. How are all of the dots going to connect?

This past Wednesday, an excavator was delivered. My first thought was a huge hole would soon appear. But the crew began sawing a line straight through the asphalt.Then the excavator carefully skimmed off the old asphalt and deposited it in a dump truck. When I came back from lunch, the old concrete sidewalk in front of the preschool was in a pile.

For a moment, I felt out of control. What my mind expected as the next step was displaced. My logic or logistics did not apply here.

Ken, the foreman who wears the bandana on his head, always knows what’s going on at any moment. He directs and supervises the on-site crews through their appointed daily duties. Before leaving, he has to make sure things are swept up, cleaned up, locked up.

I entered the Fellowship Hall doors. The walls to the left of the foyer are gone, leaving just the old “little” staircase, fraught with debris. I was nervous that there was no rail to keep me from misadventure. I envisioned little kids precariously peering over the edge; well, more like my rambunctious son flying through the air into the emergency room.

Back at the ministry center, I checked my concern at Rev. Stephanie’s door. In my best sarcastic tone, I asked “they are going to put a railing up by the little stairway, right?”

She paused and looked over her laptop. “They promised that they would have everything ready for Sunday, I just have to have faith that they’re going to do the right thing.”

There’s that word faith again. I thought about recent moments when faith crossed my mind. Faith in our President. Faith in our military. Faith that everyone stays in their lane on route 32. I then thought of my spiritual faith, and a little life crisis I was churning over in my head. Maybe I needed a little “applied faith” right now. I looked to the sky and thought “I’m handing this over to you.” It was the last time I thought about it that day.

As I walked towards my car to leave, I saw Ken putting plywood up where there was once a preschool door. He turned around, smiled and gave me a “thumbs up”.

When I returned Friday, a substantial railing along with paneling was installed at the little stairway. No feet, big or little, were going to get past this baby.

Faith restored.

-Brian Nelson

The Royal Purge

“Pay no attention to the junk behind the curtain…”

Imagine decades of accumulated props, costumes, peripherals, equipment and paraphernalia…thus is the state of the Fellowship Hall. For lack of better accommodations, these things have been stored on the stage for years, and we haven’t really noticed because they have all been under a veil of…mystery.

Like your own basement, garage or attic, Emmanuel has been saving these objets d’art through the years. Props for the sanctuary, and sets for Vacation Bible School. Those painted signs at the parking lot entrance that are swapped out depending on the season? Well, they have to be stored somewhere too. Old dishes, plastic cups, material, toys…and a lot of dust.

Donna Meoli organized an “all hands on deck” Wednesday evening to move these items off the stage and out of the building. Some of it went into the trash, but what could be salvaged went to storage, Goodwill and recycling.

Why now? Sometimes necessity dictates change. The English writer Samuel Richardson once penned “Necessity may well be called the mother of invention but calamity is the test of integrity.” One can only imagine the looks on the faces of our volunteers as the curtain was opened to reveal the task at hand. And in true Emmanuel fashion, that’s when their true fellowship flourished. We thank John, Pete, Jeannie, Jacob, Emily, Denise, Carla, Barrie, Ella, Miles, Sydney, Suzanne, Marty, Bob and another volunteer named Pete.

A new curtain will be erected, this one of brick and block, that will hide mechanical equipment required to operate our new addition and maintain our old Fellowship Hall for generations to come. Eventually, we will gain additional storage, but this clearance gives us a fresh start.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” [Isaiah 43:18-19]

And So it Begins

What started as a discussion in 2004 finally saw its fruition this week at EUMC. We began the process of construction of our new addition and our expansion project as a whole.

Phase 1 of the project is site preparation. Phone and data wiring was relocated to the side of the Fellowship Hall. Construction trailers were delivered along with the requisite porta-potties. Crews began clearing the forest behind the ministry center to allow for more parking. Property borders were prepped with fences and barriers to prevent any construction runoff from contaminating our neighbors.

All of this is in preparation of receiving a building permit. Suffice it to say, Howard County is a stickler for details, and a laundry list of requirements must be met before we can proceed with the actual, hands-on construction.

Some of these details? Well, consider that the last major project was back in 1991, a time when laws, policies and requirements were, say, more lax than they are today. “Code” is the code; these specifications change on a regular basis, and are designed to reflect construction safety trends and future use. These are not just the Howard County mandated, but are established by the trades; for instance, the The National Electrical Code (NEC), or NFPA 70, is a regionally adoptable standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment in the United States. It is part of the National Fire Codes series published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a private trade association. Ultimately, it dictates what type, material and gauge of wire is used in a particular wire run. In reality, it’s all meant to provide us with the best, state-of-the-art construction methods.

We will endeavor to make this a running account of our expansion, a sort of passenger-seat view of the day-to-day, behind the scenes action that’s taking place. No, we’re not going to give every brick a web page, but we hope to transcend the minutia and give you a big-picture account of what’s going on at your beloved Emmanuel.

And to think it all started with an idea, a thought…