'Oppressive' Heat, Sweltering Sermons After Copper Theft
Rarely does Pastor Darrell Geddes work up a sweat at the pulpit as much as he did Sunday.
"It took me about a couple hours," Geddes recalled on Tuesday, "just to get re-hydrated."
Pastor Geddes could be excused if he found it a little tough to preach about tolerance and rising above adversity after a thief destroyed the $100,000 air conditioning unit at Christ Church International, leaving a sweltering sanctuary during the hottest start to July in a century.
"Just oppressive heat. Just oppressive," Geddes remarked in an interview, as four large fans tried to circulate the heavy, hot, humid air inside the 850-seat sanctuary in south Minneapolis.
Attendance at Sunday services has begun to suffer since the theft of copper piping, worth as little as $20-$30, from the church's four air conditioning units was discovered at the end of May.
"It grieves me... to know that people actually left the service early on Sunday because it was just too hot," said Geddes.
The two congregations that use the sanctuary at Christ Church aren't the only ones affected.
The monthly graduation ceremony held by Minnesota Teen Challenge, an program that offers alcohol and drug addition treatment to teenagers, had to be moved last week to a smaller chapel elsewhere. The alternate facility did not have enough seats for the 800 guests that typically attend.
"Our congregation felt so bad about the vandalism that happened over there," said MN Teen Challenge speaker Will Connell, "they actually raised $350 for (the church) at the door."
The funds will be used to pay the church's $1,000 deductible on the insurance policy, which is expected to replace the air conditioning unit - but not for another month.
A sacrifice of money, perhaps, but not of faith.
"When the gospel started in the first century, there was no such thing as air conditioning," said Pastor Geddes. "Whether it's hot or it's cool, you know, the gospel will be preached.
"We're blessed. And even without the air conditioning, we're blessed."