EDMOND—As I sit at a kitchen table in a well-decorated Edmond home, I can’t help but think of the years of Church history seen by the man sitting across from me. He could write volumes of the battles, the trials, the struggles, the triumphs, the elation, the bitter endings and the bright new beginnings. In fact, he has already written a volume on that history: Raising the Ruins. But today, dean of students Stephen Flurry is talking to me about another new beginning for the Philadelphia Church of God, a special one: Edstone.
“It represents a massive step forward,” Mr. Flurry said.
As the first semester drew to a close, Mr. Flurry related everyday experiences from his new life in the months since he and his family moved to the Church’s new campus in Warwickshire in January to help with the large expansion of the pcg regional office in England.
Of Edstone, Mr. Flurry said that the environment is similar to a previous start-up operation in many ways: the archaeological excavations in Jerusalem. Mr. Flurry and his family lived in Jerusalem for approximately seven months with 17 students and alumni working under renowned archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. At Edstone, the group of 10 students and alumni plus a handful of staff is even smaller than the 62 students and dozens of staff in Edmond.
“It’s more like a dormitory-type environment,” he said, “more noise, more activity, more fellowshipping.”
On the other hand, the lush, spacious, secluded environment is more akin to the Edmond campus than to the noisy, packed neighborhoods of the German Colony in Jerusalem, Mr. Flurry added.
The tight-knit Edstone group went on a road trip to Europe this past April. The rental company required the minibus driver to be 25 or over, which meant that Mr. Flurry drove all 404 miles as they traveled through five countries in six days. Mr. Flurry said that road trips like these provide a special opportunity for the team of part-time staffers to get to know each other better.
“We had a lot of fun, and singing, and stories,” he said, “and it was a really good bonding experience in so many ways.”
Students have also become acquainted with members of the local congregation. Mr. Flurry said attending services at Leavesden, London, has been “a real inspiration.” He added that the local members are “super-excited” about the new Edstone office and that, “you can feel the energy when you go in” to services. He said that he can see a mutual love between the students and the members.
Mr. Flurry has encountered numerous tradespeople onsite at Edstone. He said they were very friendly and intrigued by the mix of cultures among the students, who are from America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Mr. Flurry said that he finds himself driving a lot more. Music and dance lessons are now fairly long drives away. Instead of a half-mile journey across campus to services, it’s now a 94-mile trip along a major motorway. Mr. Flurry said that he and his wife use that time to talk with their two children.
“Some of our really quality family time now is in the car,” he said.
Local members have been praying and waiting for the Work to expand in Britain, Mr. Flurry said. Now, the Church has a campus with students from Edmond and is airing a responsive tv program in Britain.
“It seems like a natural extension,” Mr. Flurry said, “but at the same time, it seems like a major step forward.”