Originally published in the spring 2023 Update Magazine.
For some, serving the Lord means standing behind a pulpit or planting churches in foreign lands. For others, it’s putting on eye protection and working a table saw. Every day, men and women faithfully support the mission of Pensacola Christian College—empowering leaders to influence the world for Christ—by using trade skills in carpentry, construction, HVAC, and more. Cabinet Shop, Scene Shop, and the maintenance department are essential parts of PCC, and students see the evidence of their work across campus, whether studying at a residence hall desk, enjoying an event in the Dale Horton Auditorium, or appreciating the well-maintained dining, academic, and recreation facilities. “We are supporting everyone in every building of this ministry,” said Dave Wass, Maintenance foreman.
Furnishing the College
The work from Cabinet Shop supplements the experience of everyone on campus and can be seen in every PCC building. Students lean on the Common Grounds Café counters, walk past campus welcome desks, and use residence hall cabinetry daily. A large project the department more recently completed was furnishing Rice Tower, the newest men’s residence hall. “Rice Tower had over 3,500 separate pieces built for it,” explained Jordan Jekel, Cabinet Shop supervisor. “This included the closets, dressers, shelving, corkboards, headboards for bunkbeds, the lobby desk, and [the] Gearbox [shop’s] casework.”
Jekel, who joined PCC staff in 2006, manages the team, oversees projects, and gives instruction on project design—all while also working in the shop himself. “I really enjoy creating architectural millwork and seeing projects come to life,” he said.
Working in an edifying Christian environment, Jekel appreciates being able to support daily campus operations while working alongside likeminded believers. Because he works in a Christian environment, Jekel supports daily campus operations alongside other believers. “The Lord has blessed me to work with a great group of guys, each of which bring a unique dynamic and skillset,” Jekel shared. And every chance he gets to collaborate with student workers allows him to train and get to know them. “We get the opportunity to teach them a trade, but we also get the opportunity to invest in each one of their lives.”
Setting Every Stage
When students attend an on-campus event, whether Fine Arts, Commencement, or chapel, the room’s atmosphere is quickly established by what they find on stage. Except for student-led events, Scene Shop designs and builds each event stage and settings across campus. The Bible Conference picnic, Christmas Lights Celebration, Campus Church’s Sunday Reflections sets, and Youth Outreach Ministry’s Teen Extreme set and escape room are only a few examples of how the department provides for the student experience.
Department manager Ben Davis joined the Scene Shop staff in 2014 after having worked there as a undergraduate and graduate student. Over the years, he’s seen a variety of successful projects come through the department, each experience providing ideas for improvement next time. “Scene Shop has to remain indefinitely flexible,” he said. “We plan for each day, but nearly every week, I will get a request from a department about something they need for an event.” Each member of Scene Shop does their part to make every project distinct. “I am very blessed with the staff we have—each person has a unique perspective and is very creative.”
Because most of his crew are student workers, Davis has opportunities to meaningfully influence their lives. “I’ve always wanted to teach and have an impact on those around me,” Davis shared. “I had always thought it would be in a high school. I still teach, just not in a classroom. And I can teach not just skills, but work ethic, integrity, flexibility, and so much more.”
Maintaining the Facilities
As Maintenance HVAC foreman, Dave Wass works with a variety of the indoor climate control and outdoor systems on campus. From doing routine checks and repairs to answering late-night emergency maintenance calls in residence halls, he enjoys the variety of the job. Together, Maintenance also takes on collaborative projects with the other trades that make up the department: construction, electrical, paint, plumbing, and zone technicians. “We all work well together and, often, that is what we do—team up and tackle the job,” he explained. “We would not be able to accomplish what we do without their support.”
When Wass first joined Maintenance in 1991, he knew “just enough about the industry to stay out of trouble.” He came to work at PCC to provide his children with Christian education at Pensacola Christian Academy, where tuition is discounted for children of PCC staff and faculty. “The Lord opened the door at just the right time,” he shared. Over the years, Wass learned how all the systems work, how to troubleshoot each, and when to repair or replace an item. He sees himself as the facilitator of his team, diligent to offer any support. “I have a great group of men that want to honor the Lord with their work.”
The continued efforts of each trade department accomplish what these PCC staff came to do—serve in ministry and support the student experience with the hands that work. “I am so thankful to God for the opportunity He has given me to learn, grow, and serve Him here with other believers,” said Wass.
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