by Rev. Monica Lewis, Minister to Children, Students and Families

LEWIS, MonicaDuring my second interview for the Minister of Children, Students and Families, I met with several groups of people—staff members, personnel committee members, board members, lay leaders. One of those meetings was with the personnel chair at the time, Lesley Holt.

Lesley asked me to talk a little more about one of the statements I’d made in my search and call papers (fancy church talk for a glorified resume) about how the design of a space enhances ministry. We chatted about it for a while. I talked about my family’s furniture business (which I left to go into ministry) and how much color/ pattern/lighting/space all influence how we experience God and, especially for children and students, how we learn.

Schools that are privileged with the resources to make it happen know that the attention paid to the physical environment of a classroom aids in the way children learn. They know that technology makes a difference. They know that if you want a child to see something on a wall you need to hang it on their level. And as our knowledge of education changes, so do the spaces where that education happens. We continue to improve and update as we can.

Just a few weeks ago, the Fund-A-Need at our annual Celebration Dinner raised funds to renovate classrooms at the Rambo School in India as well as Room 209 in our building, the classroom where our 3rd graders meet on Sunday mornings. Because of your generosity we’ve been able to engage in that renovation over the last few weeks.

Lesley Holt’s design concept, Drake Zschoche’s contracting genius, GraceAt-Work volunteers, and families coming together to assemble furniture are creating a beautiful space for our 3rd graders to learn the stories of our faith and strengthen relationships with one another in an environment crafted specifically for them.

And the most beautiful part of all of this isn’t the room. It isn’t the brand new furniture or the amazing fabric on the banquette. It’s the smile on the face of 9-year-old Natalie (self-described “HGTV addict”) as she gets to place a stool in “just the right place” in the room. It’s seeing Lesley Holt mentor Natalie and teach her what being an interior designer is all about. It’s watching Amy Carter Zschoche sit patiently and teach her son how to slow down and get the screw to match up just right with the threads in the table they are assembling together. (see photos on right) It’s thinking about the relationships that will be made sitting in those chairs. It’s the stories of our faith that will be learned at those tables. And it’s the love that goes in to everything we do when we gather as church.