Members of Centreville United Methodist Church recently approved a $4 million building project including renovations plus a 19,000-square-feet addition.
"It was an overwhelming positive vote," said Lewis Saylor, CUMC's director of staff and planning. "We want to finish the original vision we had for this church. It opened in 1992 and, now, we've simply run out of space."
The 46,000-square-foot church was originally approved for 19,000 square feet more, but it was never built. However, said Saylor, "The membership has grown from 1,400 when we opened to 2,800 adults and about 500 children — and that doesn't count the community members that [also] use the church."
The existing church contains a sanctuary, education area, fellowship hall and chapel. The expansion will add more classrooms, a youth room for grades 7-12 and a multipurpose room to use as an auditorium, small gym and gathering place for large meetings and youth activities. It will also enhance the entry area.
"We'll be renovating an office space into a larger space for the existing preschool [open to the community]," said Saylor. "We'll also be creating space for two nurseries; they'll move from the end of the building to a more central location."
Also created will be an area for the church's music ministry. "More than 330 adults and children are involved in our music ministry — choir and handbells," said Saylor. "We're going to build a second floor on top of the administrative area so we can consolidate all of our music ministry. Now, they're scattered throughout the building."
The change will provide a storage spot for robes and musical equipment, plus rehearsal areas. The whole choir can't fit into the current rehearsal area.
Saylor said several things are driving the expansion project. "We want to enhance our outreach to the local community, and we want to better care for our members," he explained. "For example, there's such a critical need in the Centreville area for youth activities, and this would give the youth ministry a place to come and talk, feel comfortable and enjoy interaction."
Furthermore, he said, the additional classroom space is sorely needed for adult, small-group meetings, such as Bible study, jobseekers and contemporary-issues groups, plus Sunday School.
"There are days during the week that every room is used, and you get to the point where you just can't put anymore [people] in — and we've been at that point for the last couple years," said Saylor. "That's why we're so anxious to move forward on this project."
At one end of the building, CUMC will finish the second story where the classrooms and new youth room will go. At the end of that area will be an open, two-story, multipurpose room with a two-story-high ceiling for a basketball court.
CUMC currently has three Sunday worship services, but there's talk of starting a fourth and, said Saylor, the multipurpose room would be perfect for, perhaps, a more contemporary service.
Last month, the congregation approved the building project's overall concept, plus a fund-raising campaign. CUMC is asking all its members to participate, and community residents also using the church facility are invited to contribute, too. "We'll handle it through pledges over the next three years," said Saylor. "We're taking a leap of faith that we can do this entire project at one time. If we built it in stages, it would add considerably to the cost."
During the next six months, the church will focus on getting fund-raising commitments. Then it will begin finalizing plans with the architect, general contractor and Fairfax County.
"We're doing this out of a sincere desire to reach out to the community and make Centreville a better place to be," said Saylor. "And we really want the lives of our members to be greatly enriched because of their involvement within the church family."
The church's senior pastor, the Rev. Bert Sikkelee, was also delighted with the confidence the congregation showed in its church by approving the building project. The vote was Dec. 8 and, although some said the recession is significantly impacting them, they still voted favorably.
Sikkelee said it reminded him of words he once read, inscribed on the wall of a beautiful church building: "This church was built in the worst of times." Said Sikkelee: "We're following the vision that calls us to stretch beyond our comfort zone in order to better serve God and neighbor. It is exciting to be part of such a congregation."
Longtime member Claudette Ward joined CUMC when it met in the old stone church on Braddock Road in Centreville's Historic District. And when the members decided to build a new brick church at I-66 and Route 28, in the early 1970s, they wondered if they could afford it.
"But we did — and we added onto it while we were there," said Ward. "Then we wondered if we'd be able to afford to build our church at its current site [Route 28 and New Braddock Road]. I have faith in this congregation, and I have faith that God will give us the means to do what we need to do. If we'd been afraid to take a chance years ago, we might still be a congregation of 150 in the old stone church. We've come a long way."