Winfield congregation discovers silver lining in new sanctuary's lengthy construction
By Jodi Weigand
Published: Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
The additional time it has taken Cabot United Methodist Church in Winfield to complete its new sanctuary has been challenging, but it's also been a blessing.
Had it been completed last fall as initially expected, the church wouldn't have a new family attending, nor would parishioners have been able to give financial help to a carpenter whose home burned down a few months ago, church leaders said.
“Had it been done on time, we wouldn't have even known about that,” said Gary Stone, the building committee chairman.
“We have a family attending now who kept driving by and kept noticing the building,” said church pastor, the Rev. Matthew Judd. “The project wasn't going very fast, but that gave this guy a chance to think every day on the way to and from work about his spiritual life.
“If it had been popped up in the time line we thought, he might have never stopped in because he wouldn't have taken notice of it.”
Even the job of moving the more than 200 padded, wooden chairs in and out of the gym where church services are held has turned into an opportunity for fellowship, Stone said.
The church broke ground on the $2.3 million project in September 2012, a decade after it moved to the former Winfield Elementary School at Winfield and Brose roads.
Building project planning and fundraising had been in the works for about seven years.
Weather a factor
The church thought the project would be done in a year, but weather has been a factor, Stone said.
This month has brought temperatures ranging from subzero to mid-50s and rain.
“I'm sure there's a reason for it to be raining right now,” Stone said Monday evening, when rain that had seeped under the plastic puddled on the floor in spots.
Judd said the church anticipates that the project will be done in late March.
The exterior of the 8,000-square-foot addition has been completed, and the bell and steeple have been erected.
Inside, insulation and drywall are stacked on the concrete floor and windows need to be installed.
The stained-glass panes from the old church will be used in the five tall windows on each side of the sanctuary, as well as for the Shepherd's window on the wall behind the pulpit.
Because of cost, traditional panes will be used temporarily in the side windows, Judd said. The stained glass will be installed later, he said.
A growing congregation
Cabot United Methodist Church moved to the former elementary school in 2002. It's the congregation's fourth home since the church's inception in the 1820s.
The church was at its former location, about a mile away on Winfield Road, for 80 years.
When the congregation began to outgrow the site, a plan was formed to expand the church. But tests showed the soil wasn't suitable.
Then South Butler School District put Winfield Elementary School up for sale.
“It has everything that's needed,” Stone said. “When they moved in here, they never thought that they would need to open half of the building. And it's all been open pretty much since day one.”
Attendance at weekend services is about 225.
In addition to Saturday and Sunday church services, the gym is used for a monthly food bank, a weekly community meal and a basketball program for kids. Youth ministries meet in other areas of the building.
All the programs needed more room than the old location offered.
“It was really almost a no-brainer to make that move,” Judd said. “It was tough on the congregation to leave a place they knew for 80 years and move to a new place that many of them remembered as a school.”
Move was worth it
Church member Troy Lindsey of Winfield said it was an adjustment to get used to the new space.
“We originally joined because it looked like a church and it was small,” he said. “We had some reservations about the move.”
But once parishioners saw all that the building had to offer, they quickly began to feel at home, Lindsey said.
“It gave us the opportunity to grow and to bring more people in,” he said. “It's part of our personality now.”
But despite the good things that have come from the building project, everyone is looking forward to its completion.
“There's been a lot of spiritual growth that's happened with individuals and as a community because of the building project,” Judd said. “It's been good, but it hasn't always been pleasant or easy.
“I think we're going to look back and say, ‘It took us this long to build the building, but God was building us along the way.' ”
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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