“Love God, love people, do something about it.” I doubt any of us on the Rock Church, Conway Charrette team could walk away from the charrette without this ringing in our minds. Conway, a city with a population of approximately 12,000 in
Horry County, is one of the oldest towns in South Carolina. Originally named Kingston, the town was established in 1734 as part of South Carolina’s governor Robert Johnson’s “township scheme” to “establish frontier settlements that would provide a buffer zone between the costal settlements and the danger form attack by Native Americans, Spanish and French forces.” Fast forward to recent years, the Horry county has a “dual personality where a primarily agrarian land co-exists with the glitz of the internationally famous vacation mecca Myrtle Beach.”
The Rock Church celebrated its five year anniversary on Sunday, March 7th. During the service, lead pastor Kevin Childs share some highlights in the past years. In short, they are a modern day nomadic congregation. Better yet, “a church without walls,” as Kevin puts it. They are a congregation which is not defined or confined by a physical building, but are followers of Jesus compelled to love God, love others, and dedicated to do something about it.
We couldn’t have planned a better service or a better time to visit the church for the first time. As they showed a video of their ministries and testimonies, the parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:17- 23) came to mind. This parable of Jesus is about a man once gave a great banquet and invited many. However, people had different excuses of not to come. So the man sent his servant to “go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” When the servants reported that they were still empty seats, the man told them to “go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in.” Back in the days, the gentiles were the enemies and the despised who were in the highways and byways of the world; however, they were not outside of God’s Kingdom. Likewise, Rock Church invites everyone to the banquet table, friends and enemies alike. Frankly, who isn’t once an enemy of God (Colossians 1:21) and reconciled only by His grace (Ephesians 2:9)?
We didn’t see much of Conway other than some bland retails and industrial buildings alongside the highway until Kevin brought us around town. He showed us the historic Conway where numerous buildings are on the National Register of Historic Place, the natural scenes along the river, and new lifestyle center development. With that said, nothing gets us more excited than seeing the piece of land that God has bestowed on the church, also the site and mission which we are privileged to take part in. In close proximity to the church are some industrial and commercial areas, as well as existing residential developments, including a low-income housing development which borders the north side of the site. It struck me to hear that Pastor Kevin knocked on each of the doors in the development before buying the property. What a faithful servant and a true shepherd.
Central to designing a church community is the god-given mission and vision of the church. An approach which delivers a holistic design that binds everything together - the physical, emotional and spiritual. The many tiers of evangelistic architecture thus includes a physical layer which serves the function of the church and its ministry, an emotional layer which feeds our natural need for community and human interactions, and a spiritual layer which ties us back to God - be it a cross which commemorates the atonement or a nature walk which celebrates God’s creation. For this church, one of the materialized spiritual element is the cracked Stone Table. In Narnia, a novel series by C.S. Lewis, the Stone Table was a great slab of rock used by the White Witch as an altar on which important victims were sacrificed. Aslan, the God-figure in Narnia was once executed on it, but was split into two right down the middle after Aslan’s resurrection. While the cracked Stone Table serves as a strong imagery of Jesus’ sacrifice, it is also something which non-believers could relate to. Moreover, a fun feature which children would love if we are to turn it into a sculptural site element.
At the wrap-up session, we presented our initial of thoughts on how to best utilized the site, keeping in mind that their vision goes way beyond the boundary of the site. Judging from the feedbacks we received back from the Church, we have passed our first hearing test.