A spiritual organization such as Allegheny will often emphasize it is not a building, but the people inside (and around) our physical space that make up our community. But sometimes, our physical surroundings are such that we have to take notice that our growth as a community is hampered. One such instance was our Founders Hall; it was – to use the words of Huey Lewis in Back to the Future – “just too darn loud.”
Anyone who spent time in the room will remember the aural assault that greeted them whenever more than a few people in there. Because the floor, ceiling, and walls were all hard, non-porous surfaces, the smallest noise would transform what should be a place for fellowship, events, and community-building into a (literal) echo chamber. People began to avoid going spending time there because they would come away with a headache. The busier we got, the worse the problem became. Something needed to be done in order for the room to serve its purpose as a place where we could come together. In 2013 we commissioned a study that measured the problem and suggested potential remedies and what they would cost.
Enter the Chalice Lighter program. The Ohio-Meadville District (OMD) provides grants, solicited through individual donors, to OMD churches to address significant needs and barriers to growth and vitality. Four times a year, people who have signed up to be Chalice Lighters are invited to contribute to a selected project. Our Founders Hall Acoustics Project was selected for the November 2014 Chalice Lighter Call and in February 2015 we received $3035 towards the project.
However this amount wasn’t enough to cover the cost of the noise-absorbing acoustic tiles that were the preferred option. To bridge the gap, we made an appeal to the community inside and outside of our walls. And what a response we got! More than $4500 in additional donations were received, more than enough to complete the work.
Over the summer, the House committee procured estimates and decided on a contractor to install the tiles, and the work was completed in advance of our Ingathering service on September 13th, 2015. It was fitting that the first time most of the community was able to experience the difference was at one of our most cherished community events, the Ingathering Potluck. And oh! the silence was golden! Even with dozens of people in the room having their own conversations, it was still possible to hear the one you were having with the person next to you. It was no small miracle to many who were there that day.
It seems appropriate that to undergo this project to benefit the communities served by Allegheny – the church congregation, neighborhood of the North Side, and the Greater Pittsburgh area – we required the support of these same communities. It took all of us, working together, and giving generously, to bring it to reality. Thank you all!
– Liz Dell, President, Board of Trustees
Learn more about the Ohio-Meadville District Chalice Lighter Program