The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance is positively steeped in religious themes, making it something of a rarity on the modern stage. The central message of this Tony-winning drama is that, in the midst of all the ugliness and superficiality of life, salvation is still possible. In the case of Merrick, such salvation is achieved through the medium of art. Though hideously deformed by his genetic condition, the titular "Elephant Man" nonetheless possesses a gentle soul, and with it extraordinary artistic ability.
He sets about building a model of St. Phillip's Church, which is expressly designed to be an imitation of divine grace springing up and away from the muddy ground on which the real-life version is built. Merrick's progress in building the model church matches his spiritual progress. But, like the model church he so painstakingly constructs, he can only ever be an imitation; in his case, he sees himself as an imitation of a man. His genetic inheritance is such that he will never truly be accepted by the society in which he lives, never regarded as fully human.
He's left with no choice, then, but to bear his cross like Christ and continue on the path of spiritual and moral growth. Merrick's building of the model church is an important part of this process and symbolizes the building of Christ's church on earth.