The installation of the new stained glass represents the last contracted job of the church remodel. A few finishing touches do remain, such as replacing the outside sign and eliminating interference in the sound system, but major construction is now complete. The work itself took about three months and involved over 70 volunteers, and the Sanctuary Improvement Team had been meeting since April of last year to plan the remodeling. That team was Kirk Sherrell, Bob Shaw, Tom Hight, Katrina Mendenhall, Jeremy McAninch, Leon Rennells, and Jean Imholte. An East Hills Alliance trustee, Leon co-chaired the construction team along with Pastor Nick.
"We're real close," Leon said. "Nick was hoping it would happen overnight in a massive labor push, but unfortunately, that doesn't happen when you have contractors. Hopefully, it will serve the goals that we set for it."
Some of those goals had to to with basic upkeep. The roof in particular needed work to prevent leaks from damaging the church. Others were for convenience, such as plumbing in a sink at the coffee area. Beyond that, the team wanted to make the building more welcoming by improving its appearance, to increase the usefulness of the platform area, and to open new possibilities for the entire space by switching from pews to chairs.
Katrina had a big hand in the design and color selection of the sanctuary, although expert opinion, the consensus of the team, and feedback from the church body all factored in.
"Even myself, I was uneasy about how some of the colors would match," Leon said. "What's funny is that there's about five colors of beige in there, but when you look at it, it's hard to tell they're different. That was deliberate."
The new platform extends about three feet farther and is much more accessible. By removing the steps from the back and adding acoustical panels, we ended up with a much better site for a real drum set than we had before. The main speaker has been replaced and eight stage lights added. We have not yet figured out how much to use the new lighting in typical services, but it will definitely improve mime and drama performance.
One less obvious upgrade I personally appreciate is the balcony temperature control. Before work started, the loft was always hotter than the outside air during a Saturday night service, but with better insulation and a new air conditioner, we can now keep it cool in the summer. So you can expect to be more comfortable whether you are standing up front, sitting on one of the new chairs, or in the balcony.
Ultimately, though, the real goal is not to have a comfortable building for ourselves to spend time in, but one that helps us reach out to the lost and draw them into the love of Christ. We can reap a small reward now by looking around and seeing the improvements, but the real value will be in the lives of people who find it that much easier to start or strengthen a relationship with Christ because their surroundings make them feel welcome.
"There were so many times that we planned for something and it didn't work out per plan. It seemed like a mistake. And the way we resolved that mistake turned out to be God's will and was even better than we planned. God used it as a way to show His power. That was the neatest thing, to see God at work. God just put the right people in the right places. And he did provide the manpower. It was a God thing all around."