Clifton Presbyterian Church Plans a New Addition

Clifton Presbyterian Church Plans a New Addition

Times have changed since Clifton Presbyterian Church was built in 1872, and now the church needs more room to carry out everything it does. So it's beginning work on a $3 million addition and renovation that's expected to be finished around August 2006.

"WE STARTED a major fund-raising effort, almost three years ago, in which people pledged toward the capital campaign," said building-committee chairman Mark Reimers. "This, plus donations, have raised about a third of what we'll need, and we'll take out a loan for the rest."

Added church spokeswoman Janet Mero: "There'll be bricks outside with family names inscribed, plus one large plaque in recognition of all those who donated." However, Reimers stressed that the building campaign didn't affect the church's mission donations. "They've remained high," he said.

This picturesque, historic church sits atop a hill behind the Hermitage Inn restaurant in Clifton. The manse next door once housed pastors, but is now used for offices.

A preschool, fellowship hall, meeting area and offices were added to the church building in the 1950s. But in the late 1990s, the church realized it lacked room for all its programs.

"There wasn't enough space for Christian education, and the fellowship hall wasn't large enough to accommodate the whole church or a large meeting, like a Boy Scout Court of Honor," said Reimers. "So we did a needs assessment for ourselves and for community outreach. We could see our facility needed to be both upgraded and expanded."

LeMay Erickson Architects did a feasibility study and developed architectural plans. The church decided to add onto the side of the building by the existing parking lot and relocate the parking to the front.

"THERE'LL BE 50 spaces total, but now they'll all be together and paved," said Reimers. The current lot is gravel and subject to erosion, but the new one will comply with the Chesapeake Bay requirements. "We'll add a storm sewer to tie into the town and Popes Head Creek," said Reimers. "And we'll have a large, underground facility to help water quality."

Classroom space for young children will be added behind the building, closest to the playground. Babies and toddlers will use it during Sunday School, and preschoolers will use it during the week. "We expect this to take a year, but we'll still be operating," said Reimers. "So we've already added two, doublewide, modular units for nursery and preschool use."

He's belonged to Clifton Presbyterian since 1972 and says membership has fluctuated over the years. But, said Mero, "There's been consistent growth in the past several years. We've gotten about 100 new members over the past 10 years."

The congregation has two Sunday services, and Glory Korean Presbyterian Church worships there Sunday afternoons. So the church plans to increase its capacity from 120 to 150 seats.

"The area behind the sanctuary will be enlarged," said Reimers. "We'll use the same pews, but will reorient them so the front of the sanctuary will be where the back is now. And we'll add additional pews made to match."

The front doors will remain, but members will enter instead via a side door now leading to the fellowship area. The kitchen will also be remodeled and the bathroom made handicap-accessible.

"The new fellowship hall to the right of the existing hall will be 50 percent larger than the old one," said Reimers. And, added Mero, "It'll have partitions to section off the space so different programs could go on simultaneously."

THE CHURCH office, now upstairs, will move to the first floor, and a hallway will lead from the narthex behind the sanctuary to the new classroom area in the rear of the building. And because of ADA requirements, an elevator will be added between the first and second floors.

The pastor's and associate pastor's offices will move from the manse to the second floor, and there'll be classrooms and a bathroom on the second floor, as well. "The preschool now serves four different grades," said Mero. "About 90 kids will be on both floors during the week, and there's also an after-school program for the preschoolers."

Regarding new programs, Reimers said the only one currently being considered is a small, senior-daycare program. It would be a place where senior citizens could socialize, have a light lunch and do some kind of activities, such as arts and crafts.

Reimers said more space was needed because "at times, we've had to have Sunday-morning, adult education in a room at the Hermitage or the Acacia Lodge [across the street] and meetings in the manse." Other times, some church activities had to be held in people's homes. Furthermore, said Mero, "We've combined seventh- and eighth-grade, and ninth- and 10th-grade Sunday School classes that we'd like to have separately."

"And we have to be careful about scheduling," said Reimers. "For example, on Wednesday evenings, the choir is practicing in the sanctuary, the Boy Scouts are in the fellowship hall, we're using a room upstairs for small-group counseling and there'll be another church group meeting elsewhere in the building or in the manse."

He said the church might eventually rent the manse for residential use or remodel it further for church use. "Our objective is to not be dependent on use of the manse for church purposes," he said. "But we haven't made that decision, yet. Right now, the Town of Clifton is short on meeting space, so other civic groups like the Webb Sanctuary and the Girl Scouts meet here."