Religious scholars have long debated the location of one of the most mysterious Biblical artifacts, the Ark of the Covenant. Now a group of high school students with Rock Hill Baptist Church are creating a replica of their own.
“We hope that they learn what this means to Christianity and to their life,” Tom Williams, chairman of deacons, said. “We hope they learn the basics of Christianity and God’s redemptive plan for them.”
The students have worked on the project for 30 minutes every Sunday since April, said Jim Hughes, 52, church member and owner of the shop where the students build. The girls are called “Soul Sisters” and the boys are called “Jarheads.”
“Jarheads is a military term,” Hughes said. “They never leave anybody behind. That’s what we teach these boys: when your brother stumbles, pick him up.”
It’s a motto that the students have taken to heart.
“There were some guys here I didn’t like at first, but we’re all bonded now,” Tristan Moore, 16, said. “We make sure we’re doing this for Jesus and not ourselves.”
The design details for the Ark of the Covenant are specified in the Old Testament, and the group has tried to stick to them as closely as possible.
“I couldn’t get acacia wood shipped in,” Hughes said. “I tried for months. So we’re using poplar. It’s lightweight.”
“The Ark represents the presence of God in the Old Testament,” Williams said. “Inside the Ark of the Covenant is the Ten Commandments which was the law of God, also a golden jar of manna which represents his provision, and then the staff of Aaron which butted out representing the future coming of Jesus Christ and the new life that we have in him.”
It was also recorded in the Old Testament as a powerful weapon, killing anyone who touched it other than prescribed priests.
“The Bible last places the Ark in Solomon’s temple, which Babylonians destroyed in 586 BC,” according to a 2008 Time Magazine article.
Organizers expect to spend about $3,000 on the Ark and another $2,000 on the other parts of the Holy of Holies, the very interior of the Old Testament temple where the Ark was housed.
While the Jarheads have done much of the building, the Soul Sisters have painted and sewn for the project, Linda Howard, 18, said.
“We’ve learned about how serious God is about what He makes and how serious He is about holiness,” she said. “It’s made me a better woman of God. It’s really great to work on something you believe in.”
“I can honestly say it’s been a real life changer,” said 17-year-old Brownsboro student Patrick McCarthy, who was put in charge of the building process. “When I started going there I was a skeptic, and just recently it’s touched me … It’s amazing to know something so small had such meaning.”