Under sunny skies in 88-degree heat, members of Clifton Presbyterian Church broke ground Sunday afternoon for the church's new addition.
"I'm very excited — I cannot believe the day has come," said Marla Hembree. A member of the church's building, fund-raising and long-range planning committees, she said, "I've been working on this for seven or eight years."
"IT'S WONDERFUL," said member Fred Rankin. "Nothing like this has happened to the church in 50 years. Added member Doris Bell: "It's a great occasion for this church and for the town."
The two pastors, members of the congregation and local dignitaries gathered outside the church manse for the ceremony. And with guitar accompaniment, member Jim Dixon sang a song called "Touching Tomorrow Today" that he wrote when the church started fund-raising for the project in 2002.
Later, he said he's glad Clifton Presbyterian's a small church: "It has a great youth program, and the church family is like our own family. They're all special people."
Seminary intern Bonnie Davis led a prayer before the groundbreaking. "We pray that what is planted here will grow and flourish, watered by your gracious blessing," she said. "May the house built here be not only a haven for the gathering of your people, but a home for their nurture and preparation to go into the world as faithful followers of our Lord, Jesus Christ."
Attendees included Clifton Mayor Jim Chesley, Sen. Jay O'Brien (R-39th) and representatives of those involved in the addition's building and design. LeMay Erickson is the architectural firm, and Sully Construction of Chantilly will do the actual building.
"It's truly a day that is welcome," said Chesley. "I'm proud to be with you today, as I am to worship with you in this house of God." O'Brien said he was pleased to see "the importance of faith, in all religions, as part of the community that brings us all together. I congratulate all of you. Your patience will be rewarded when the construction is over."
Added LeMay Erickson's Paul Erickson: "We look forward to being with you on Dedication Sunday, when the next chapter in the church's life is opened."
LAURA LANIER, elder of Christian education, said the new space is needed to keep up with growth. "We're just thrilled to get everybody under one roof," she said. And with the two, new trailers, "We're increasing our education program while we're building." Lanier called the church a place where people "always step forward to help each other."
Clifton Presbyterian's pastor for almost 10 years, the Rev. Lynn Stanton Hoyle says its commitment to outreach in the community, nationally and internationally make it special: "[Besides affording] opportunities for growth in faith, with our new building, we're hoping to expand our service into the community."
She said the new addition will culminate many years of planning, preparation and working to build support for the church expansion. Said Stanton-Hoyle: "The congregation has really come together, and there's been a great amount of financial support, plus volunteer hours, to make it all possible."
Associate Pastor Julie Hodges said it's exciting "to be part of a church that's growing and to think about even more opportunities for outreach — including youth ministry — with an updated facility."