When building a new Unitarian Universalist church it has been thought that we should make something that has the qualities of being quintessentially meaningful to our local world. But what are the qualities of UU Central Oregon that we should build into the very essence of our church?
Approaching our building.
Perhaps even more important than Central Oregon style, we want everyone to feel welcome every moment they are with us. Coming to our church should be like welcoming people who are coming into our home. This feeling is important to communicate, because the essence of our church is the humanity of our community. Therefore, as people arrive, even when coming into the parking lot, there should be a transition from the rigid outside society of highway linearity to a curvilinear setting that humans feel to be more natural. We are coming to a natural environment; we are returning to our natural home, when we enter these premises. As we drive through the gently curving trees we see various parking spots which are built into the natural setting. It is like entering our local Oregon campgrounds in the woods. When we leave our car, parked individually among the trees, we enter onto gently curving paths going to the front door, and as we walk we have a few moments of the feeling of communing with nature; as we approach the entrance and we encounter more people, we have the feeling that we are still in a natural setting, that we are approaching a communal camp site. Our friends are part of our expanding feeling of being part of a community. We are with people who belong here, we are all part of nature, even this little bit of wilderness is our home when we are with our friends.
This is Central Oregon and the area around our building should reflect the natural landscape. That includes older Ponderosa trees, Rabbit brush, and various other sagebrushes, and exposed natural stone. Our local stone is jagged lava and rounded river rock, and it would be conducive of the natural feeling to have some lava stone heaped as a natural outcrop decoratively placed around the paths and entrance. Perhaps even some columns of crystal basalt as seen along miles of the Columbia River located on either side of the entrance, as a portal, and lava stone part way up the outside walls. Lava is a coarse stone, which creates a feeling of harshness, but this could be set in such a way as to be a contrast to the softer brush. The brush could be growing out of spaces in between the lava rocks. The places where the people would be walking and standing should be smooth and natural pastel colors, perhaps of smooth paving stones.
A reflective pond directly in front of the main entrance could be outlined partly in lava stones and partly in smooth stones. The entrance and departure from the building could be moderated by walking away from the exit bedside the pond. The view departing the building should emphasize the naturalness of the pond and the trees beyond, perhaps with a glimpse of the mountains. Cars would be out of sight until you were away from the entrance and a few steps away from the pond. Just inside and outside of the entrance there should be pleasant areas for conversing with other people. To keep the pond safe from falling into it, there could be a gently sloping sandy beach, transitioning into the paving stones. This should make it safe and impossible to fall. Everywhere, everything should be made as safe as possible from accidental falls. Perhaps there could be a separate covered entrance on the side for people with mobility problems.
The symbols of the whole church should be of community of people living in harmony with nature. We need a style that blends these concepts.