Notes from the building committee

I have been a member of the All Saints building committee since the fall of 2005. I’ve been part of a lot of different conversations about how to move forward with building, I’ve been present for several discussions with multiple architects, and I’ve helped evaluate a lot of possibilities. What I haven’t been part of is any actual building — for one reason or another, it’s only now that we’re maybe, hopefully, really and truly this time within striking distance of actually being able to seriously move forward on the next step of designing and constructing All Saints’ permanent temple. I sincerely hope to have more to say about that in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, I got asked recently by a friend who is part of the building discussion at a mission in a different state how I might state the lessons that I think I’ve learned from the nearly seven years of being part of the project at All Saints. We had a lengthy conversation, and he asked if I could sum it up as a list of principles that he could circulate with his priest and building committee. This is what I came up with:
  • Principle #0: What you are building is a temple that has as its principal function the worship of God according to the practice and tradition of Orthodox Christianity. You are not building Sunday school classrooms that happen to have a room attached where services can happen if enough people show up.
  • Principle #1: The most cost-effective way to do anything is to do it right the first time.
    • Principle #1a: You can’t get a good deal on something you don’t want.
    • Principle #1b: So expect to pay for it. Be happy to pay for it, because if you don’t pay for it now, you will pay much more later for not paying for it now, and the worker is worthy of his wages.
  • Principle #2: Build in the midst of your people.
  • Principle #3: Site and design well from the get-go. That will make it easier to build in stages if you have to, not harder. See also principles #0-2.
    • Principle #3a: If you must build in stages, do not build as your first stage something that a majority, or even a plurality, will find comfortable to remain in indefinitely. Built into each stage must be the impetus to move on to the next stage.
  • Principle #4: Build something you want still standing there in 200 years. At minimum, plan to build the church where you want your grandchildren’s wedding to happen. If you follow principles #0-3, then this will be the natural result. If you don’t, it will be much harder to accomplish.
As I said, this has all come out of what I’ve seen go in to the planning process. I may have a totally different list once I’ve seen what happens when real hammers are swinging. It’s also obviously a list of “core ideals” rather than a step-by-step guide — this doesn’t tell you how to manage a capital campaign, for example, and it doesn’t tell you how to handle contracts and bidding so on. All very, very important things. This is, put simply, what I suggest as what the assumptions should be at the beginning of the project as the concrete things take shape.
For those of you who have been through building projects — do these jibe with your experience? What am I leaving out? What do I have wrong?

5 Responses to “Notes from the building committee”

  1. 1 Vicki 20 March 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Another Principle: Figure out where your people are and where they WILL be, and build there! E.g., Holy Trinity in Indianapolis \reviewed its membership records and saw that more than 80% lived to the north of 86th Street, and they also knew that that’s where the growth in the metro area was going to be…. so they found property on 106th Street, raised money for that first, and then built their present temple there! BTW, property value increased over the several years it took to complete the payments, so it was a good investment should they have decided not to build.

  2. 2 Adam Kemner 21 March 2012 at 4:31 pm


    I think you are definitely heading in the right direction. It seems in the Old Country, these ideals were more central. I’d reorder #4 after #0 and #2 after that. Quality of design should be a natural consideration if the focus is giving our best to God for His glory, and a legacy to pass on.

    In Christ,

  1. 1 Mission Planting and Temple Building | Red River Orthodox Trackback on 5 April 2012 at 10:26 pm
  2. 2 Notes from the psalterion « Leitourgeia kai Qurbana: Contra den Zeitgeist Trackback on 22 April 2012 at 4:36 pm
  3. 3 Not believing in “big ideas” or, why we can’t have nice things | Leitourgeia kai Qurbana: Contra den Zeitgeist Trackback on 13 August 2013 at 7:55 pm

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