By Travis Mounts
CHENEY – Expansion is on the horizon for the United Methodist Church.
The nearly $1 million project is about to become a reality, with more than 90 percent of the funds raised. The estimated $986,008 project includes $911,008 for a new building and another $75,000 for a parking lot. As of July 21, more than $890,000 has been raised and the goal is to have the rest of the money raised by this fall.
The expansion is designed to grow both church and community ministries, and the new facility will be open to both congregation members and to the community at large.
The new building will be located to the north of the current church and building, and the structures will be connected. The current parking lot will be lost to the new building, but a new paved parking lot will be constructed to the west of the structure. It will give church members a much larger paved parking lot.
Cheney UMC first looked at an expansion in 2007, but the economic downturn, combined with changes at the church, led to the postponement of the project. About 75 percent of the funds for this project were already raised, left over from that first attempt.
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“There was money collected…and we needed to resurrect this project. We want to attract some new people,” said Kris Young, who is co-chair of the building committee with Clint DeVore.
The new facility will have space for adult and youth Sunday school classes, children’s church, the Methodist men’s and women’s groups, church dinners, various programs, exercise, contemporary worship, family nights, Sunday morning fellowship, the church’s fifth Sunday brunch and prayer shawl gatherings, as well as new ministries.
Community groups who will use the facility include the Good News Club, 4-H groups, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, vacation Bible school, women’s Bible study, and other youth groups, plus fundraising events. The facility also will be available for after-school programs, weddings and bridal showers, funeral dinners, banquets and parties, and more.
Plans call for a basketball court with adjustable-height rims. The floor also will have a volleyball court with inserts for poles and a net. There also will be a large meeting room with audio/video technology, a large kitchen with commercial equipment and storage, and restrooms.
Innovative Construction Services of Wichita is the architect, and Triple B Construction of Clearwater is the builder.
Just over two years ago, in March 2017, a new 16-member building committee was formed to take another look at expansion. A survey of the congregation followed to determine the purpose of the new facility, including needs in terms of rooms and equipment. The architect and builder were retained in February 2018.
A capital campaign began in 2007 and was relaunched in the first half of 2017. In February 2019 a visual barometer was created to help church members see the progress in fundraising.
Another critical milestone was met on May 11 when the expansion was given approval from the Methodist District Board of Church Location and Building.
Pastor Aaron Duell is new to Cheney United Methodist Church and to the project. He took over as pastor on July 1. He said projects like this one are about serving the congregation and the community.
“Everything the church does is for the sake of the mission,” he said. “If the facilities prevent us from doing the mission, we need to adjust the facilities.”
Duell said he is still learning the ins and outs of the project.
“I know they’ve been working on this for some time,” he said.
The church will have an informational meeting this fall and will follow with a “Charge Conference” where church members will vote on the final approval of the new building before construction. The goal is to start construction in the fall – possibly in October – once the final fundraising is done and the congregation vote passes.
“If the weather cooperates, we might be done in three to four months. Six months is more realistic,” Young said.
That means construction could be done in time for Easter 2020, which would be a very fitting timetable for a resurrected project.