The Rev. Deborah Woolsey, rector at Church of the Good Shepherd, Athens, and convener of the Campus Ministry Collaborative in the Diocese of Southern Ohio, writes about how the presence of a TARDIS on the steps enhanced the church’s ministry:
Since September, there has a been a big blue box on the front steps of Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens, which is located in the heart of Ohio University. Fans of the long-running BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who are quick to recognize it as a replica of the TARDIS, the vehicle The Doctor uses to travel through space and time. Our intended purpose for creating this replica was to advertise our fall ‘Gospel According to Doctor Who’ series. And while that purpose has been accomplished, we have been pleasantly surprised by the powerful and unexpected interactions we’ve had with our neighbors, the OU community, because of the TARDIS.
… Iconic: People of all ages recognize it, even people who are not fans of the television show. While visiting Athens during Homecoming weekend, alumni who own a business in Dayton saw the TARDIS, took a picture with it, posted the picture with a description of the church and promoted the Gospel According to Doctor Who program on their business’s Facebook page.
Welcoming: The TARDIS has been the viewed as welcoming by parishioners and people who do not attend church. During the parish book sale, a young woman stopped by and bought two books because when she saw the TARDIS, she said it felt like a sign she would be welcomed. She also said she doesn’t think very highly about churches because of the stories you see in the news about predator priests, but the presence of the TARDIS made her realize not all churches are bad.
Fun Way to Interact: One day we found a quarter in the call box part of the TARDIS (where the phone is). It is a playful way of engaging with us by saying they “paid” to use the phone.
Community building: OU’s Music Department borrowed the TARDIS for this year’s Hallowpalooza music program for area school children.
Connection: When we took the TARDIS across the street for Hallowpalooza, passersby expressed concern that the TARDIS was leaving. When it returned, several students applauded as we reassembled it on the church steps.