What Are We Building?December 10, 2022 Thoughts and Reflections
Is it a nave, a church, a Mission Abbey, or what? This isn’t just semantics. How we talk about what we’re doing on 212 McClellan Road is important. Using the right words and having a shared understanding of these words will only serve to galvanize our church’s mission. So then, what is it exactly that we are building?
Technically, with the current phase of our construction project, we are building a new nave. The term nave derives from the Latin navis, meaning “ship,” which is a common symbol for the Church. For example, in our baptismal liturgy, we pray that the baptismal candidate be “delivered from destruction and received into the Ark of Christ’s Church.” The word nave, then, has come to denote the building where a local church gathers for worship. And even the ceilings of some naves look like the frame of an inverted ship as a picture of the church “sailing in the heavenly places.”
But the construction our new nave is also the first step toward developing our property into what we call a Mission Abbey. To say we hope to build a Mission Abbey is to say that we intend to develop our property as an outgrowth of our mission and personality. It is what we envision 212 McClellan to ultimately become: a place of prayer, service, beauty, and refuge.
A campus where yes, All Saints Anglican Church gathers, but also where other ministries that serve our community are housed; where people in our community are invited to find rest, hospitality, resources, and spiritual care. We hope our Mission Abbey will become both a hub of church planting in West Tennessee as well as a spiritual retreat for those in need; a community center as well as a place for contemplation and meditation.
We decided early on that the first step toward the development of our Mission Abbey would be the construction of its central piece: the nave. Both in symbol and in reality, the heartbeat of the Mission Abbey will be the gathered Eucharistic community. All healing, all family life, all formation, all service and generosity flow from this reality, reminding us that in all of these efforts, our ultimate intention is always to build the Church. Not a building, but a people who house the very presence of God for the life of the world.
In all these efforts and more, our primary focus is not the construction of a new nave; it’s not even building a Mission Abbey. It’s making disciples; that is, it’s building the Church, not just in number, but more importantly, in depth. Deeping our life in God together for the sake of others is what drives both the construction of our new nave and the development of our Mission Abbey. We must never forget this.
What are we building? We are building the Church.