BY MICHELE PITT
OKLAHOMA CITY — "A vision is when God tells you to do something and you let it happen." These words from a middle school student are an apt description for a project just completed at OKC-Chapel Hill United Methodist Church.
In the 1970s, Chapel Hill expanded its building.
The plans included a "porte cochere" – a fancy name for a covered entry. A sanctuary was built, but no "portico." Then, in 1982, the sanctuary was expanded. Again, a new entry was in the plans but never made it off the drawing board.
"I believe vision can only come from God, from diligence in prayer, and open minds and hearts to receive," said Mark Jardine, senior pastor at Chapel Hill.
Marvin Chiles, a longtime member who chaired the 1982 Building Committee, is delighted to see the covered entry is finally reality.
The portico "was always part of the vision. Even back then we considered it a missing link, a physical invitation for people to come into Chapel Hill," he said.
"I spent years involved in the building stuff. When you work on something like this, it never really leaves you.
"Just a simple thing like having a covered entry and automatic doors, making it easier for the elderly, for guests to walk through our doors ... well, for me it’s like finishing a project the way we wanted it to be," Chiles said.
Rev. Jardine noted that the force of a shared vision was clear in the recent fundraising drive for the portico. "Our goal was to raise $150,000, and within two weeks $200,000 had been pledged.
"After 40 years, it happened very quickly."
Committee members tasked with these building projects became, and remain, deeply connected to the church.
Chiles said the entry isn’t just a past project completed but part of a vital future.
"This is the piece that’s always been missing. It is a deep thing for me. It’s great to see it up and open."
A project such as this is a reminder about the nature of community in a church. We move forward, often thanks to the vision of people we never knew.