You have probably started to hear some rumblings around the church about the new BAT Team. And no, this is not a church team of vigilantes working alongside Batman to fight crime in Hagerstown. Our BAT Team stands for the Building Analysis Task Team. This team has been selected to do a comprehensive analysis of our building. We do this for a few reasons:
- To get ahead of necessary repairs and project costs
- To evaluate what spaces might be due for an update
- To ensure that our space is an asset and not a liability to the ministry groups using it
- To think creatively about how to enhance our space so that it can better meet our ministry mission.
In consultation with some of the experts that use the space, the BAT Team is encouraged to be creative and dream a little bit. After all, they don’t get to make any final decisions or hire contractors. The BAT Team’s sole responsibility is to analyze the space and provide a report to the Leadership Team.
As this group has begun to form, it has reminded me of how connected we are to our spaces. Space is important to us. To have our own space, our room, our church, or our classroom. Because of the nostalgic connection to space, it can be hard to watch space evolve through time and undergo wear and tear or a total overhaul.
In the June 2017 edition of Messenger Magazine, the Church of the Brethren Magazine (subscriptions available, call the office), a couple wonderful articles outlined the significance of the space known as the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Maryland. The upper campus at New Windsor was recently sold; the denomination maintains their service ministries in the warehouse at the lower campus. The upper campus, with its historic college buildings, played host to many significant Brethren mission programs throughout the years including Heifer Project, Church World Service, Brethren Volunteer Service, Interchurch Medical Assistance, CROP, On Earth Peace, and more. Yet as Jim Benedict (Pastor of the Union Bridge COB) said at the closing service for the center, “Whatever the reason, Brethren have never been the kind of folks who put much effort into building monuments, museums, or shrines. The buildings where we meet for worship are merely meetinghouses, not cathedrals or temples; functional spaces, not architectural marvels meant to inspire awe or allegiance.”
What we have witnessed at the Brethren Service Center or right here in our church indicates that we do have an allegiance to space. However, my challenge to the BAT Team, those who work with them, and to the whole congregation is not to allow allegiance to space as we have loved it become a hindrance to our call to ministry. Our space should be a tool and not an idol, a meetinghouse and not a Temple. Space should meet function and function should flow out of our mission as a Church. I’m interested to see what the BAT Team discovers.