The painting in the narthex says it all. Christ. The resurrection. The painting and the original brick wall behind the pulpit area connect First United Methodist Church to its past and to a new beginning.
When the congregation left the FUMC sanctuary January 10, 2016, little did they know it would be more than a year before they came back in. That Sunday, the congregation processed out at the end of the service, and for the next year and a couple of weeks, they met in the fellowship hall.
On January 22, 2017, the congregation processed from the hall into the sanctuary.
The Rev. Debora Bishop, or Pastor Debora as she is often called, said it was a special moment in time.
“We came in the sanctuary together as a family,” she said, “and we sang ‘Here I Am, Lord.’”
On Sunday, January 29, the congregation held a Wesleyan Covenant Service, a service of renewal, in the “new” sanctuary.
So what has changed in the sanctuary? Everything, to some degree. A blending of the old and new, refinishing, refurbishing, reinforcing. Down to the bricks and rebuilding walls. Pews, floors, ceiling – every surface. The choir loft was redone for easier accessibility.
The design was done by Kristie Dunn Diegeuz. Pastor Debora notes the openness and the welcoming atmosphere. There’s more light, especially in the narthex which was somewhat dark. The original wall around the windows behind the choir loft was left exposed.
“The bricks are a central part of this space,” Pastor Debora said. “The brick is our history.”
There are additions to the sanctuary. Two small screens have been erected in the corners on either side of the pulpit area. These may be used to display Scripture and announcements. In addition to the preacher’s pulpit, a lectern has been added for lay leaders, the music director and others.
The communion rail is original with some additions and reinforcements. Pews were taken out and refinished, and the floors were refinished.
“These people have vision for the future,” Pastor Debora said. “This is a big dollar investment in this town. It shows that this church is not going anywhere. It will be here for generations to come. This will take us a long way.”
And a long, long way in the future, there may come a time when renovation will be done again.
During the current renovation, workers uncovered a nail box in a wall from the original 1928 construction. A worker in the distant future may uncover the time capsule the current congregation sealed in a church wall. It contains a letter to the people who will be here, a church pictorial directory, a newsletter … and the nail box from 1928.