The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Homepage

May 8, 2014

Members invest $400,000 in their church

LEWISBURG — More than $400,000 in renovations have brought the 19th-century Beaver Memorial United Methodist Church firmly into the 21st century — old-world beauty meets air conditioning, brighter windows — even the kitchen of dreams.

“Peter Beaver didn’t believe a kitchen belonged in the church,” Senior Pastor Rebecca Foote said of the congregation’s founder, who established Beaver Memorial in 1888. The previous kitchen was a testimony to that, merely functional for the barest of cooking needs.

Why a new kitchen? Communal meals and feeding the needy, such as the popular “Dinner by the River” and other initiatives, are part of Beaver Memorial’s ministry and popular ones at that. It wants to bring more people together to break bread.

With a new, enlarged kitchen with commercial-grade appliances, Associate Pastor Timothy Hogan helped cook Easter breakfast for more than 200 people, all in fellowship. They hope to begin weekly dinners and a weekend breakfast soon.

Peter Beaver might not approve, but the roughly 220 congregants who gather in the Lewisburg church during the heights of summer and winter surely will appreciate the changes, both in beauty as well as comfort.

“It’s beautifully adequate,” Foote said sincerely. “We didn’t remake it ornate. It’s adequate for our purpose,” which is to bring people of all walks together in worship.

The air conditioning will bring them together more comfortably. Without it, the church was oppressively hot in the summer, preventing older parishioners with ailments, such as heart and respiratory problems, from attending. Even weddings couldn’t take place in those months. Now, the church has six weddings scheduled, the first in about two weeks.

A new sound system, better lighting and sunnier yellow paint make it easier to hear and see inside. An “air-dust” technique cleaned the gunk from the more than hundred-year-old stained-glass windows, bringing their colors back to life and letting the natural light, especially sunshine, show of their beauty.

New Plexiglas replaced the clouded old barriers, protecting the windows from outside elements.

A new roof solved a leak problem that saw water running down the walls. Refinished floors and new carpet complement nicely the solid wooden pews, railing and altar area. Even the organ got a lift so the player can see the choir in accompaniment.

The upgrades reflect Beaver Memorial’s mission, Foote said, welcoming all people to worship.

“The ministry has changed and enlarged,” she said. “And the changes were to nurture that,” keeping true to the 125-year-old church’s aesthetic. The first major renovation since 1959 began in earnest in January and was finished roughly six weeks later, in early March. T-Ross Brothers Construction, of Montandon, was the lead contractor.

The church began its $550,000 “My Church” capital campaign in December, Hogan said, and about 90 percent of donations has come directly from parishioners. The idea of “my church” gave people an ownership of sorts in Beaver Memorial, Hogan said. “Everybody got involved,” he said. “The theme ‘my church’ became ‘I’m responsible’ and people wanted to be a part of that.”

The church borrowed from a United Methodist financial institution to repay as funds are raised, and right now that total is about $425,000.

“Every church has a personality and a function, a specific purpose,” Foote said. “Ours has never to be a mega church, ever” but more of a welcoming place for family and friends. We want to be the church we are in this part of the world.”

 

1
Text Only
News

Sports

Daily Blast
Entertainment

Images
The Daily Marquee
Video
Seasonal Content
The Valley