Main Street UMC groundbreaking

The community is invited to a groundbreaking ceremony at Main Street United Methodist Church on Sunday, Sept. 15 that will celebrate the start of construction on a new addition that will provide much needed connectivity, accessibility and security to the church campus and its facilities.
Sunday’s groundbreaking will begin at 9:45 a.m. in front of the Main Street UMC chapel, kicking off a building project that is expected to take at least the next year to complete and will greatly change the outer appearance of the long-serving church.
“The whole appearance of the church is going to change, including the parking lot and campus,” said Thomas Vaught, chair of the Main Street UMC Building Committee.
Main Street UMC has been looking at connecting its buildings, which include the main sanctuary building, the original chapel building and the building that houses the church’s preschool and fellowship hall, and improving the church parking lot for a number of years. After a major capital campaign and blessing from the congregation, the $3.5 million to $4 million project becomes reality when shovels turn dirt on Sept. 15.
What does the overall project involve?
According to Vaught and Main Street UMC Pastor Dr. Michael Gehring, the project will include construction of a clearly identifiable central entrance with a covered drop-off area. The new space will create a central gathering place where people will be able to “cross paths, connect, mingle, have some coffee or sit and talk, and build relationships.”
In addition, there will be a new central communications hub/desk where people can seek information, sign up for events or pick up resources. Elevators and ramps will be installed to provide greater accessibility to all the church’s buildings, especially for people with mobility issues, Vaught and Gehring said.
The interior connectivity of the campus buildings will also impact security, bettering it for those who utilize the church space throughout the week, including better security for children in the preschool program by connecting worship spaces to educational spaces with a single indoor gathering area while at the same time limiting the number of entrances to spaces used primarily by children, they said.
Vaught and Gehring said the creation of a central gathering place answers a need among people in today’s world to be connected.
“As people travel from worship to Sunday school or from one activity to another, their natural pattern of travel will take them through this “warm, inviting space where they will at least say hello, and might even sit down on a comfortable chair and spend some time together,” the two noted.
The community will also notice substantial changes to the existing parking lot, which includes a small space at the rear of the sanctuary and in front of the preschool building, then more parking across Tanyard Lane, which is only accessible from South Cherry Street.
“The whole parking lot will be leveled; the road will be gone and it will all be connected.” Vaught explained. “It will be completely different in how it looks.”
The new and improved parking lot will also have new outdoor lighting, something that is needed given how much the church buildings are utilized on weeknights.
“Currently, we have a dark parking lot. That will change,” Vaught said.
Vaught said he is excited about how the new addition will allow the church to provide even more meeting space to the community.
“If we have the space available, then the community will be able to use it,” Vaught said.
Pastor Gehring agreed and said he looks forward to how inviting the new space will be for the community.
“I am excited for the increased hospitality it will bring. As with all of our space, we want to leverage it for missions and outreach,” Gehring said.
Construction on the addition is expected to take around 300 days, which would be around June of next year, Vaught and Gehring surmised. After that, construction will begin on the parking lot, with it expected to take around 90 days to complete.
“That way, we don’t inconvenience the weekday school,” Vaughn said.

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