Pastor Troy Gramling, head of the Christian Potential Church in Cooper City, and his wife of 28 years, Stephanie, are getting ready for an unusual stunt.
They’re about to move into a 500-square-foot glass house that’s being built on the church parking lot at Flamingo and Sterling roads.
Yep, a glass house.
And as much as the anti-hypocrisy message in the proverb, that those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, the tattooed padre says his two-week experiment is about being vulnerable, or naked, in an intimate relationship.
“The house is quite small,” says Gramling, who sports dyed blond curly hair and hangs out in camouflage pants and Air Jordans.
“I’m a bit nervous about it,” says his wife. “We’ll learn things about each other we might still not know after 28 years. We still don’t have it all figured out.”
For two weeks in what amounts to a fishbowl, Gramling and his wife will sleep on a Murphy bed, cook in a microwave and a toaster oven and conduct church business from inside the house, in full view of anybody who drives or walks by.
And to make double sure they’re fully visible, it all will be captured 24/7 by six cameras, including a night vision lens, and broadcast online.
Reality TV sex in the dark of night?
“No,” says Gramling after a chuckle. “We’re not going to make ourselves that vulnerable. Besides, I’m 50, that’s not happening.”
Still, things will sure be tight in there: A former college basketball player, Gramling’s 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds.
Vulnerability, says Gramling, is what he wants the 6,500 regulars in his congregation and anyone watching online to think about when they see him and his wife.
“The idea is let’s get naked,” he says, “figuratively. Let’s be authentic, vulnerable. We live in such a cynical society that needs more authentic people with their good, bad and ugly.”
There is, Gramling admits, a part of marketing in his move.
Although his congregation is one of the area’s largest and has branches in Pensacola and Hallandale, two South American countries and the Bahamas, he enjoys baptizing new members swayed by his ploys on busy Fort Lauderdale beaches in ceremonies that lure several hundred people.
And then, he’s going to use what he learns in the glass house in his Sunday sermons for most of the fall.
“There’s an honesty to what we’re doing,” he says. “After a couple days, you never know what’s going to happen. I’m not really relishing the thought of sleeping and living under cameras.
“I expect a lot of criticisms,” he says. “I’ll just have to deal with that.”