WHITEFIELD — Humidity didn’t slow down the crew that showed up on Monday to paint the sanctuary of the new Cathedral Church of The Twelve Holy Apostles.
Too humid and it takes a bit longer for the drywall mud to set.
Members of the congregation want to have the sanctuary done in time for a dedication of their new “green,” solar-powered, earth-sheltered church.
The dedication is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday and will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Apostles, which normally is celebrated Monday, according to the Rev. Douglas Wright.
The first service in the new church will be held Sunday.
“The humidity isn’t cooperating,” Wright said as he pointed out the drywall compound to volunteers.
This simple, beautiful, country cathedral sanctuary is a masterpiece of post-and-beam construction built by members of the parish and a neighbor, master builder Robert Lear.
Once the sanctuary is completed, large icons of the 12 apostles will be hung, each in its own bay on either side of the church. The east wall will be adorned with icons of the Four Evangelists, Wright said.
Herb and Judy Nixon, of Bristol, were among the volunteers helping to build the church at 625 Head Tide Road. Construction began last August.
“We’re very excited about the church and happy for the opportunity to work on it,” Herb Nixon said as he prepared to install some doors. “Not many people have the opportunity to build a church.”
Wright said the land on the Sheepscot River had been in his family since 1938. He donated 18 acres with a 300-foot frontage on the river to the American Orthodox Community church in 1988.
He said the church is three-quarters finished.
Set on a hill overlooking the Sheepscot River at the end of a long gravel driveway that winds between a green pasture and a stand of pine trees, the view from the cathedral doors is a panorama of Sheepscot Valley fields, woods and river.
The walls are insulated with reflective foil bubble wrap as well as Styrofoam panels.
The exterior is plain cedar shingles with simple windows and the insulating earthen berms. Lower roofs of the church will be covered by sand and dirt, then seeded over.
“All the post-and-beam work was quite complicated, but strong enough to carry the heavy load,” Wright said. “It’s being done all over Europe. I’ve been living in an earth-sheltered monastery for 20 years with a wood cook stove that heats domestic water.”
He said radiant-floor heating will keep the church warm, and electricity will be generated by 16 solar panels. The system, he said, was designed and supplied by New England Solar Electric in Worthington, Mass.
“I have a conviction that it is immoral to waste energy, especially today,” Wright added.
The unfinished portion of the church includes the vestment closet, laundry, kitchen, Wright’s office, dining room and Sunday school area.
When completed, the 47-foot-by-64-foot church will cost about $130,000, excluding volunteer labor.
Wright planted flower beds encircled by large rocks before the roof was finished, hoping they will bloom in time for the celebration.
He said people of all faiths are invited to join the church, which has eight members.
Toni Hinds, of Alna, another volunteer, came Monday to paint, and was busy stirring a gallon of off-white to brighten the walls of the sanctuary.
According to Hinds, the new church is the best thing that has happened since she joined the congregation 12 years ago.
“It’s a wonderful family group of people who come to this little church,” Hinds said. “It’s more than just being a parishioner.”