April 11, 2008
Two weeks ago we had a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility we will construct nine blocks away from our current location. It was a great occasion.
First, the weather cooperated. It had snowed a couple of days before, but on the Friday the sun came out and the ground was dry except on bulldozed ground. Our maintenance people put down a tarp to keep the ground dry despite the snow. Then they made two plank walkways for the shovelers so they could make it to the good dry soil.
Second, all of Shanda's planning worked perfectly. The trolley for guests from the current campus, the van for the cabinet, the cleared parking lot, the press present, the great crowd (perhaps 200 or so), the scripts for Pastor Ron Norman as chair, for Al Nies as board member and building committee member, and for the president, the shovels from the Sioux Falls Area Foundation ? everything worked.
Third, some wonderful friends and neighbors showed up. Staff, students, pastors, Augustana College people, alumni, community people, USF people, Sanford Health people ? just lots of people.
Special recognition went to some of the dignitaries who attended and participated in actually turning the shovels. Dr. Rob McClelland, executive director of the NAB Conference from Chicago, was present. Rob Oliver, president from Augustana College, participated. Evan Nolte from the Chamber of Commerce came and hoisted yet another shovel (he gets to do a lot of these kinds of activities). Representatives from our architects, RSA, were out in force with Danielle Heider, the main design architect taking the shovel, and the construction company, Jans Corp, with Duane Rippentrop as project manager doing the honors. Others involved included Jackie Howell from the NAB Heritage Commission, Dr. Doug Anderson from Sioux Falls Psychological Services, and Rebecca Hjelle, current student council president.
David Link from Sanford Health Systems joined the shovels. Sanford Health, especially Kelby Krabbenhoft and David Link, have been the best neighbors, helping us along the way to viability. Their presence was most appreciated.
Fourth, the event symbolized a new beginning. As each shovel went down into the kind of gooey dirt and then turned it over, a small physical act started a year long process of building new on that property for the future of the seminary. Perhaps the preceding year is reflected in the shovel entering the soil and the turning spoke to the year to come.
Any way you look at it, we have started.
My thoughts on the event lean toward analogy with a wedding. Lots of preparation goes into just a few minutes of actual ceremony. But, indeed, it is a beginning. We have started.