The following story was written by Carl Carlson, a past member and lay leader of Good Shepherd. Carl wrote several stories about the building of the current sanctuary, which was completed in spring of 2001, and with which he was heavily involved. The stories not only share a glimmer of Good Shepherd’s history, but also connect faith and life in real, humorous and touching ways.
A must for visitors to Oslo, Norway is Vigelandsparken which displays the works of Gustav Vigeland, Norway’s most famous 20th century sculptor. The park contains hundreds of monumental sculptures on the theme of Man’s destiny from childhood to adult life. The culminating point in the park is The Monolith, a 40-foot high mass of intertwined figures of all ages, shapes and sizes striving to get to the top, symbolizing the struggle of life.
In Brevard, we have our own “sculptor,” Jim Macfie, who creates beautiful stone walls and structures using the rocks from our Western NC area. In 1984, Jim built the stone wall in the sanctuary (now our Fellowship Hall) using rocks collected from the local Cathey’s Creek. The plans for the front wall of our new sanctuary included a stone wall to match the existing one. (Plans for stone walls on the sides of the sanctuary were dropped due to cost constraints.) Since rocks from Cathey’s Creek are no longer available, Jim had to search elsewhere for a close match.
When the rocks arrived, they appeared to be a chaotic pile of rubble, consisting of mud-covered rocks of widely varying shapes and sizes, and none of them appeared particularly colorful or attractive. But then the master stonemason went to work, washing the rock, selecting the right stone for the best position in the wall, and carefully positioning and securing each rock with mortar. The result is the beautiful front wall, a harmonious blend of rocks of all shapes, sizes and colors, which forms the background for our altar and pulpit.
When I look at the stone wall I am reminded of how God has picked up each one of us out of the rubble, lovingly washed us with the waters of our Baptism, called us to follow Him, and bonded us together through the mortar of His grace. I like to think our wall is LCGS’ counterpart of the Vigeland Monolith. Each stone represents a past, present or future individual in the congregational life of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. I see charter members, past pastors, former members who sacrificed and struggled in the early years, existing members and staff of our congregation, infants, children, young families, seniors, and many others – all bonded together and cascading upwards embracing the Good Shepherd window which symbolizes Jesus Christ, the answer to our struggles in faith and life.
The next time you experience a quiet, reflective moment in the sanctuary, take a closer look at the stones and let your imagination “free wheel” for a while. Search through your memories and locate some of those individuals who have made a contribution to the life of this congregation. Find your family members and friends. Perhaps the small rocks at the top represent children. Which stone represents you?
Now you know the “inside” story. . . . . . . . . Carl Carlson