Much to celebrate

Published 2:32 am Friday, October 6, 2017

Church plans major renovation, addition

First United Methodist Church’s concert on the lawn of Springdale was designed to celebrate the church’s growth and to share an appreciation of all that is good in the church and the community.

“We want to celebrate not just our church, but Andalusia in general,” FUMC children’s director Katie King said. “We want to attribute that to God, and not just to ourselves. Psalms says it is our job to express that God is the one doing these wonderful things. We are not to stay quiet, but to vocalize and verbalize that. I truly feel the hand of God is moving in Andalusia and in our church.”

FUMC minister Dr. Jason Thrower said the church has welcomed 47 new members in the past two years at a time when church growth experts predicted only one new member per year for the next 20 years.

“We live in a very stable community,” Thrower said. “We have to attest to these figures. God is good.”

Because of the growth, and concerns about the current children’s wing of the historic downtown church facilities, the church is about to undertake an approximately $2 million building project.

Thrower said the church congregation officially voted to move forward with the project – which has been months in the planning – this past weekend. Now, fundraising begins.

“The way our (children’s) building is built, there is only one door for the kids to get out of, and it opens to a busy street.”

King was worried that in an emergency, there would be no escape.

“This is just me looking at the building with a mom’s eyes,” she said.

The 100-year-old sanctuary building also has some maintenance issues and water damage, which will be the first thing to be addressed, Thrower said.

“We want to preserve what we have,” King said. “This is not an extravagant addition, it just makes a lot more sense.”

The 6,500 SF addition will connect seamlessly to what is now the youth building, King said.

“The new design will allow us to have a check-in system,” she said. “Our capacity is such that we need constraints.”

King said with the church’s abundant growth, there was need for space for families, kids and babies.

“We are excited, from a community aspect, that we’ll have space to host more events,” she said. “For instance, we’ll have an indoor playroom to host Vacation Bible School. We’ll have opportunities in the future to use that space in other ways, not just church activities.”

Once then new children’s wing is completed, the current children’s wing, which faces the side of city hall, will be demolished, and additional parking will be added. The project also includes updates to the kitchen.

“There is a great spirit in our church right now,” King said. “That is a gift, and a wonderful thing. We also see older members embracing and supporting the need to grow our facilities for our younger members. It’s a very cohesive feeling we have, and I’m grateful to lead the children’s ministry.”

Construction is expected to begin in 2018, and completion will likely be in 2019.