The McKnight Group is commemorating 50 years in the church building business in 2020. As part of the commemoration, our founder, Homer McKnight, recently sat down to share how the company began in a podcast. Here are a few highlights from that episode: The McKnight Group Origin Story.
Homer McKnight Hears A Voice
Homer McKnight’s story of The McKnight Group begins when he was in high school. While Homer liked working with his hands, painting and customizing cars, he never considered architecture as a career path. One day, while alone and working on a car, he heard a voice say, “Homer, I want you to be an architect.” But there was no one there. He went into his house and told his mother about it. She said, “Son, if nobody was around, that was God speaking to you.”
Needless to say, Homer began looking at colleges with plans to study architecture. He was also a sought-after track athlete and was offered scholarships from 13 different colleges. None of these schools had good programs in architecture, unfortunately. So, he chose to forego those offers and study at The Ohio State University, which had an excellent program. As you can learn by listening to the entire podcast, he would have to choose again between athletics, scholarships, and studies during school. But, in the end, Homer made the right choices and finished with an architecture degree.
Homer Gets Great Opportunities
Architects were in high demand when Homer McKnight graduated from college and he was offered a job with a large, prestigious firm in Atlanta. But at the same time, he had an offer to stay in Ohio and work with a very small firm (and yes, you can learn the details about that by listening to the podcast). It was a difficult decision, but, as Homer shares, “My dad always said, ‘Son, God has a plan for your life, but you have to make the right choices for the plan to work.’”
By choosing to sign on with the smaller firm, Homer was given the opportunity, from the very beginning, to be fully involved with the entire building construction process as well as drawing up the plans. This was highly unusual for a novice architect, and it gave him experiences that none of his other classmates received. During his two years with that firm, he drafted his first church design and oversaw construction of his very first church building, a chapel in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Next, Homer got a large job overseeing a large construction job for Ohio University—15 five-story dormitories and a dining hall. He and his family (his son David, now president of The McKnight Group, had just been born) moved to Athens, Ohio and he spent the next two years learning and gaining valuable experience as the architecture representative for this giant project.
God Speaks to Homer Again—about a Church Building Project
It was during this time that Homer got another word from God. His mother had asked him to draft plans for her church’s new sanctuary, for free. He was working on those plans (for Grove City Church of the Nazarene, which we’ve used as an example in many of our posts) one evening in his basement studio, finalizing the church design that would be handed off to a contractor. Suddenly, the same voice he’d heard in high school said, “Homer, you’re going to build the Grove City Church.”
Since he’d heard the voice before, it wasn’t a shock, but he still had to make the right choices for everything to fall into place. Fortunately for all of us, he did that. Thirty days later, he started working on the Grove City church building and soon after The McKnight Group got its start.
To learn how it all unfolded, we invite you to listen to Homer’s podcast. And we will be sharing more podcast episodes in the future, so stay tuned to learn more about The McKnight Group’s history over the past 50 years.