The vestry voted to move forward with the Sanctuary Floor Project in June, and accepted a bid from King Business Interiors, which has a lot of experience working with churches. A few weeks ago, a design team consisting of Joe Rutter, Kaitlin Raver, Rae Fellows, and Karl Stevens met with Raine Dearing, the designer from King. We had a wonderful meeting, full of excitement and ideas, and Raine has taken those ideas and given us this beautiful mock-up. In the paragraphs below we’ll walk you through the design, and then ask you to prayerfully consider contributing to the remaining costs.
We will be replacing the floor of the nave, the part of our worship space that stretches from the Woodruff Avenue doors to the steps that lead up to the sanctuary (the part of our worship space where the lectern, pulpit, organ, choir stalls, and high altar are located). We will replace all of the existing tile in the nave, and leave the space beneath the pews painted rather than tiled.
We want the flooring to be in harmony with the existing design elements in the sanctuary, particularly the mosaic tiles over the Woodruff Avenue entrance and the St. Stephen’s mosaic in the baptistry. Our sanctuary also has some surprisingly oceanic elements. The baptismal font and the high altar are both made of Texas limestone that shows the fossil remains of shells from an ancient sea. The shape of the nave is that of an upside down boat, as is true of many churches. The very word nave comes from the Latin navis, which means “ship.” Early Christians deliberately patterned their buildings after ships, to emphasize that the church is a vessel that we can ride in while we navigate the chaotic waters of daily life. Finally, our sanctuary is known for its plant life, and we wanted a design that would speak to the flora growing in the planters. (If the church is a boat, then the plants might symbolize the olive branch that the dove brought back to Noah’s ark, to show that the flood was ending).
The design that we came up with incorporates all of these themes and ideas. The vestry asked that we choose a labyrinth design that would minimize the number of pews that need to be removed. We looked at several, and settled on one that looks like a tree (echoing the plant motif) when you come through the Woodruff Avenue doors. It has a cross at its center, reiterating the cross above the high altar. Looking back at it from the altar, the design looks like an apple, another plant symbol that reminds one of both the Garden of Eden and our Christian duty to help feed the world.
Kaitlin suggested that we continue a mosaic-like pattern across the floor, starting with light colors at the back and using tiles that take on dark blue hues as the floor approaches the font. We believe that this will create a sense of immersion, serving as a constant reminder of our baptisms and invoking our spiritual practice of going down into the deep waters of our being every Sunday and reemerging with a sense of renewal. The colors we’ve chosen harmonize with the mosaic tiles on both the Woodruff Avenue entrance and the Saint Stephen mosaic. They also work with the tile colors in the sanctuary, which we will not be replacing.
We will remove four rows of pews to make this vision a reality. Some of the pews will be used to replace two broken pews at the front of the nave. A few will be turned into seating in Hobson Hall. The rest are yours for the asking. Click here to request a pew. Unclaimed pews will go into King’s furniture donation program.
The work will take place during the Fall Semester, and should take only a couple of weeks. We may be able to continue to worship in the sanctuary while work is ongoing. If not, we will move to Hobson Hall for one or two Sundays.
Your Donations Needed!
We have received a very generous donation of $25,000 to help pay for the Sanctuary Floor Project, but we need you to help make up the remaining amount. The project will cost an estimated $36,000 in total, so we need to raise $11,000 in addition to the initial gift. You can donate online by going to http://ststephens-columbus.org/give-online/ and clicking the “Donate” button. On the donation screen, use the dropdown menu to select “Sanctuary Floor Project”. You can also donate by writing a check to the parish, with “Sanctuary Floor Project” in the memo line.