More Than a Building

Until the year 2000, our International Team occupied a structure built a century ago. It was a power-plant that generated electricity for Glen Eyrie. It was cramped, inconvenient, and decayed. But we could not afford to move.

Then, an anonymous donor approached us and offered to finance a new building. We were amazed by this unforeseen provision from God! Now we can celebrate the 10th anniversary of our international building, remembering the vast number of people from our Worldwide Partnership who have met here to advance the Gospel among the nations.

But it is more than a building.

As the International Team began to think about the building’s visual design, we felt strongly that it should communicate an ethos not of an office, but of a home for our Navigator family around the world. At the end of Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul uses the household (oikos) or building metaphor six times. The nations, he writes, are joined together to become a building, or a dwelling, in which God lives by His Spirit. So, we wanted the international building to be warm and inviting, a social space designed for a close team rather than an organizational hierarchy.

In addition, because God values beauty, we agreed that the building should display a profound aesthetic that was not ostentatious. We also wanted it to fit the landscape, to be full of Colorado’s light, and to be in touch with nature. To this day, deer, big horn sheep, wild turkey, colorful songbirds, and even an occasional rattlesnake enjoy visiting the building.

Navigator history also played an important role in our design decisions. As you might know, the original Navigator motif was a ship’s wheel, which comes from the 1930s when our ministry was among sailors. Thus, you will find in the building three circular windows, each divided into four quadrants like this Navigator wheel.

Next, we made a subtle reference to the church architecture of nave and aisles that, in the West, stretches back at least to the Church of St. Agnes Outside the Walls, located in Rome. The story of that ancient church is marvelously told in Margaret Visser’s book, The Geometry of Love.

The building expresses what the great Christian psychiatrist Paul Tournier called a “theology of place.” As Tournier wrote, “All our experiences, emotions and feelings are indissolubly linked in our memories with places . . . man is not a pure spirit, and he has part in the places in which he has lived and experienced joy or sadness. He is bound up with matter, with things, with the ground he lives on. Our place is our link with the world.” In designing this building, we engaged together in shaping “space” into “place. It has a God-oriented design that is also rooted in our Navigator history.

Let me end with a quotation from G.K. Chesterton—“The difference between construction and creation is exactly this: a thing constructed is loved after it is finished, whereas a thing created is loved before it is made.” It is important to remember that God created each of us, loving us before we existed in a material way.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the international building, I hope we can remember that the Spirit of God brought us together, all of us, to help create this place. Now, it is loved. May God continue using this place to serve our Worldwide Partnership in the coming years.

Donald McGilchrist served as International Vice President of The Navigators between 1976 and 2005. He continues to serve The Navigators and lives in Colorado Springs.

R J Fischer
As read your article I was reminded of the time I visited the international office. I remember thinking of the prayers and plans that must come from the people the people who meet in this place. I could see in my thoughts how He touches the far reaching places and people of the world. Wow! I thought. Now as I pray for the International work of The Navigators, my thoughts take me back to the time I visited your building. I am so glad to be a part of what God is doing all around the world. Be encouraged and keep up the good work.
1/1/2014 3:12:45 PM

Jim McDonald
I like the method that the Navigators are influencing the world for Christ, as Jesus did with his Apostles pointing outward as a voyage to reach all nations.
1/1/2014 12:39:15 PM

Connie E
It is a beautiful building and a wonderful reminder of how God loves to bless His people.
2/26/2013 9:12:20 AM

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