The Final Plan

Three years of architectural work, in collaboration with artists and liturgists, musicians and pastors, generated a basilica design, the walls of which were to be built predominantly with dolomitic limestone. A fifty-five-foot-high peaked slate roof and timber ceiling configured out of reclaimed Douglas fir would cover a large, open, rectangular nave. From the door at the west end, the room would lead to a semicircular apse at the east, lined with limestone from Jerusalem, and to the altar sheltered within it, a space definitively marked for liturgical action. The liturgical furnishings – the altar, ambo platform, and baptismal font – would be fabricated from Botticino marble and would be aligned on a central axis: the altar, sheltered within the apse, would hold the place of primary focus; the ambo would be set in the midst of the assembly; and the baptismal font would stand inside the door. The nave, filled with mahogany chairs, would seat the entire Community antiphonally, allowing worshippers to face one another for the daily chanting of the psalms.

Sloping roofs of similar construction to the main roof would cover two parallel but lower side aisles that ran the full length of the church. Between the nave and the parallel side aisles, fourteen columns and arches would stand on each side, and a rank of translucent clerestory windows would run above them. Mahogany cases would sit over the north and south sides aisles, holding the pipes for the organ.

The art program inside the church would depict the entire biblical story, with creation at the door and the heavenly Jerusalem at the altar end. Art themes for specific areas would relate to the given liturgical actions of that space – baptismal images by the font, Eucharistic by the altar, and so forth. Each zone in the church had its own requirements: for example, colors that would brighten toward the east and mosaics that would build from subdued marble pieces to brilliant glass cubes, symbolic of the promise of the resurrection; a strong narrative of the procession of nations to Jerusalem, representative of the ecumenical focus of the Community and the inclusion of all peoples who trust in God’s saving power.

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