This Easter Sunday marked 40 years since construction began on the Ark of Safety in the Appalachian town of Frostburg, Maryland. The ark is a project of Pastor Richard Greene, who says God instructed him to build an ark “as a sign to the world of my love, and that Jesus is coming soon”.
The location was originally intended to become a full-service Christian community, housing a 1700-foot auditorium, medical clinic, counseling clinic, food and clothing pantries, and a complete Christian educational center covering grade school through Bible college. After sharing the vision with his congregation in 1976, Greene says that they voted unanimously to build Noah's ark as their new church, then unanimously voted again to build it to Biblical proportions. The church laid $300,000 in foundation materials. It took another 15 years to save the $200,000 spent on the first third of the framework.
Four decades later, that partial steel skeleton is still all that looms along the mountain corridor of I-68. The interstate did not exist when the church broke ground, but now, thousands of people see the rusting steel beams every day, passing within a stone's throw of the property at high speed. In author Timothy Beal's book Roadside Religion, he wrote: "It reminded me of one of those scenes from left-behind type movies in which everyone had been taken up in the Rapture, leaving all their projects unfinished."
Pastor Greene estimates that the church would require $50 million to complete the construction. In a 2012 interview with BBC, Pastor Greene seemed mildly frustrated by the state of the project. “I can only build as God provides, because no banker will loan me the money,” Greene said. “My one hope is that God would get this ark done before I die. I would like to see it."