A Job for a Steeple Stabilizer

I like steeples. I’ve always liked them. The church I grew up attending was an A-frame structure with a fellowship hall attached, and it looked like a church. But a steeple would have improved the building.

I like them. And that is one reason I was particularly hurt when our church’s steeple recently decided to consider leaving the church behind, presumably to seek spiritual care and ecclesiastical mooring elsewhere.

Okay, I will admit that steeples don’t have spirits, but they point our spirits in the right direction. No, you don’t have to tell me for the ten millionth time that the church is the people and not the facility, up to and including the steeple. But a good church (the building) is a very special place. Place matters. So much that is beautiful and holy has gone on in “our” particular place, so many amazing people have worshiped in that place, that you won’t catch me considering it “common,” though its bricks and mortar, rafters and joists, are about as common as any you’d find at Tomas’s Totally Fine Tacos.

And “recently” deserves a line or two. For years, when I’d be working on the audio-video computer, etc., up in the front part of the balcony, and the weather was windy at all (which is almost always), I’ve heard some bumping sounds that I thought were just normal building noises.

But during a recent particularly disgusting blow, I looked outside at the steeple and then decided I’d better take a look inside by removing access panels from the balcony’s ceiling. Yep, two iron brackets and their steeple-tethering bolts and nuts were moving more than you’d like for your steeple hardware to move.

This may have been happening for years. But it’s one of those things that, once you know about it, well, something needs to be done. And that is a problem.

If you become afflicted with a boil on your nose and go to an “ear, nose, and throat” physician (an otolaryngologist) seeking health and help, you are likely to be disappointed. Though you quite naturally consider the pain to be a proboscis (nose) problem and the doctor’s credentials specifically mention noses, the nose guy will probably blow you off and send you to a dermatologist.

And what about a steeple guy or gal? Were we in New England where beautiful steeples abound, I think we could find some bona fide steeple specialists. But we’re not. The best we can find might be folks whose work very occasionally involves steeples. They like doing roofs. Or they like doing carpentry. But steeples? Not so much.

If you’re a steeple specialist and you read this, please call me. The last time I was up on the roof doing external steeple work—just replacing lights—I was moved to prayer. And I resolved it was the last time. (Not for prayer.) Even from the inside, I’ve already done more work temporarily “shimming” those iron braces than I’d really care to. If you hear of a pastor being rescued by the fire department as he was stuck up inside a steeple, you’ll know I made a very poor decision.

Steeple amputation is something we’re not considering. That church was built for and with a steeple. Some churches are not, and that’s fine. Some churches (as in, the people) have done an amazingly fine job with buildings of all sorts.

Nothing matters, of course, if the church’s first and deepest love is not Christ. But I wish all well, whatever their style in worship or architecture, whatever their number in attendance, who proclaim his name.

I will admit that I don’t care much for the presently popular “church in a box” architecture coupled with the meant-to-be-exciting, trendy, one-word church name, all of which could easily belong to one of the presently popular “houses of worship” built to enshrine various sports endeavors. It all seems so canned, shallow, and temporary.

If a church proclaims Christ, the fully human, fully divine Son of God as Lord, I rejoice.

But if I ever am involved in building a church (as in, the building), though such architecture is presently unpopular, it will have a steeple, bells (as in a carillon system that sounds like bells which is about as much as most of us could afford), and, very likely, kneelers, since bodies and spirits are connected and kneeling is good.

In any case, I very much hope that our steeple chooses to remain with its present congregation. And, yes, if you’re a plumber with a steeple-stabilizing side job and you’re good at it, please call me. I’ll have my cell phone even if I’m up inside the steeple.

You’re invited to visit my website, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!

Copyright 2022 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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