The Future of Central United Methodist Church: Examining our building
An update from Committee Member, Dean Francis
A study committee has been meeting for several years to consider ways to make our building more hospitable and accessible. We are specifically looking at the glass entrance off the back parking lot, as well as the front of the sanctuary and choir loft. It’s time to share what we’ve learned and get your insights. In February, the church will be asked to vote on initial steps of the process. Come first to our information sessions and learn more!
- Wednesday January 17 at 6pm (in conjunction with the United Women of Faith Dinner)
- Sunday January 28 after the Well Service in the lounge, after Traditional worship in the sanctuary.
- If you were unable to make any of the information sessions, CLICK HERE to view a zoom recording of the building presentation.
- Sunday February 18 All-church meeting and vote after Traditional worship in the sanctuary.
Thirty years ago Central Church completed construction on a transformational addition to the church that provided our ministry The Gathering Place, an elevator, the library, a street level foyer and two accessible restrooms. It is a beautiful space that has served the congregation well in the years since it was completed.
Today, like so many downtown congregations, traffic patterns have changed, mostly due to where parking is available. What was once a back door, the glass entrance off the back parking lot, has become the principal entrance into the church. Two-thirds of us who come to church on Sunday enter through this door and over 95% of our weekday traffic enters here.
When we arrive at church via the back door, we confront a 15-step climb to the second floor and the sanctuary level of the church. As an occasional greeter at this door, I have witnessed first-hand our members and friends struggling to make this climb or descend. I have seen families with baby strollers literally ask; “Where do we go from here? How do we get into the church?”
At the front of the sanctuary (what we “church nerds” call the chancel) and in the choir loft, our choir members, musicians, worship leaders and preachers also confront a dizzying number of steps and perilous pathways in order get into place to lead us in worship. Most of us sitting in the sanctuary don’t see or experience this maze that is out of our sight. But it presents real and difficult obstacles for our worship leaders. The difficulties with accessing the chancel also excludes many people with mobility challenges from offering us their musical or liturgical gifts.
As a congregation whose core values and vision is to nurture an inter-generational community and to offer radical hospitality, I believe we are being challenged to explore how our building can embody a profession of this vision. The leaders that gave and sacrificed thirty years ago to give us the spaces that have served us so well, have shown us a vision of this kind of transformation. And I believe, that is now our turn to create spaces that call out to the community, “This is a place where everyone is welcome.”
Please join us as we explore how this might become a reality for Central Church. The building study committee looks forward to your participation and input as we continue to engage in this congregational journey.
Dean Francis is a retired United Methodist pastor and a member of the building study committee.