A couple of weeks ago Jan Braunle gave me an article from the Boston Globe about a group of architects that had recently gathered at Harvard. One of them was Victor Lundy, the architect of our buildings.
I had never met Victor, but countless numbers of people have asked me who designed the building. I decided to try to get in touch with Victor, so I contacted the person who wrote the Globe story and he put me in touch with the person who had arranged the Harvard meeting, and he gave me Victor’s firm’s address in Houston. I left a voice mail message introducing myself and Victor returned the call.
We had an animated, satisfying conversation. I felt like I had met Victor.
The next day I got another call from him, he told me that he was planning a Thanksgiving visit with his son and grandson, who live in upper state New York. He said he wanted to bring them here, since they had never seen his prize-winning church. (More than one prize has been awarded to Victor for this church building.)
I eagerly awaited Victor’s visit, the day before Thanksgiving, and was thrilled to spend two hours with him, his wife, son Nick, and grandson, Alex. Victor was thrilled to find his creation so well cared for, and to learn that it has served so many people so well during its first 45 years.
As we talked I referred to the statement that he wrote about the religious symbolism of the building – the hands in prayer that are not pressed together, but remain separate – he made that gesture a few times as he explained his design to his son and grandson, and Rob Zuckerman captured his hands-in-prayer-gesture on film.
Near the end of our meeting I told Victor that I would love to have him come for a special celebration visit, and that I was sure Arnold Westwood, the minister who ‘built the church,’ would love to join us. (When someone is minister during the construction of a new church building he or she is referred to as having ‘built the church.’)
Victor said he would love to come. I called Arnold, and he was delighted. He said, “That sounds great – I haven’t seen Victor for 41 years. I’d love to have a celebration.”
I talked about the idea during my sermon on Sunday, since it fit into the topic: What They Dreamed Be Ours to Do. (The sermon is now on our website.) Several folks volunteered to organize the Victor and Arnold visit, which I’m assuming will be a weekend in the Spring, with a Saturday gathering, a Sunday morning dialogue sermon, with a reception following.
At the World Parliament of Religion, in 1893, someone said, “You Universalists have squatted on the biggest word in the English language. Now the world is beginning to want that big word, and you Universalists must either improve the property or move off the premises!”
I’m excited about continuing to find ways to improve this physical and philosophical property.