Saving Grace

Using heat and pressure, more heat and pressure than one can imagine, a 3,150-ton factory press turns solid cylinders of pure aluminum into long, thin rails. The shiny rails exit the enormous machine looking wet and molten, like they might be gooey to the touch.

Alexco Tooling Manager Greg Fraley, safety glasses on, explains how these aluminum rails are later strengthened in an aging oven, then are used to construct aircraft mainframes. Very light, yet hard as steel.

But are his Chandler factory presses Y2K compliant?
"We're working on it," he says, quite serious.
With the mention of Y2K, Fraley switches roles--from tooling manager in his father's factory to coordinator of the Phoenix chapter of the Joseph Project 2000.

"The purpose of Joseph Project 2000," he says, "is to find a tangible way the church community can help people--not just those in the church community--deal with the whole Y2K issue. From awareness through preparedness and providing a balanced response."

Balance is key. Christians have been depicted in the media as Y2K apocalyptic zealots, causing many pastors to avoid discussions of millennial preparedness. On the other hand, there are very real hard-core Y2K survivalists who would prefer Fraley adopt a more radical stance.

"You got these two extremes," he says. "You got the end-of-the-world people, and those who think nothing will happen. We want to provide a calming middle road that helps people understand the realities of Y2K without stirring up panic. In the event there are disruptions or shortages, the church community can be a shelter and place of refuge for those who were unable or unwilling to prepare."

When calling on local pastors, Fraley will point out that the United States Senate, the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have all recommended preparing for days or even weeks of disruptions. Yet, so far, few churches have joined his cause.

A quick phone survey of some of the pastors on Fraley's non-Y2K compliant list, proves his point. Most calls were not returned and nobody wanted to discuss Y2K.

"We don't have a position on that," said Pastor Scott's assistant for the 2,000-parishioner strong Valley Cathedral. "It's really not a spiritual issue, so we don't have anything to give you."

Fraley, a former minister himself, understands their hesitation.
"Pastors are afraid of being associated with those who are 'way out,'" he says. "But to me, there's two ways of looking at this: If a church stores up clothing, food and water and nothing happens, they'll have all this stuff they can give to homeless shelters and the needy. But if a church does nothing and Y2K causes serious disruptions, and they weren't prepared, we've missed an opportunity to show the love of God to people in our communities. Hopefully, we can get churches to realize that."

He concludes, completely sincere, a Christian unafraid to apply a little heat and pressure for his righteous cause.

--James Hibberd

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James Hibberd
Contact: James Hibberd