Medford United Methodist Church Expansion Will Double Its Size

Local congregation to begin significant expansion after a decade of hard work and fundraising in an age of declining church attendance.

”Build it and they will come.” It’s a phrase everyone knows.  Some think it must be from the Bible; it’s a simple clear message--build a place of worship and the people will follow. The words are actually mis-quoted from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. The sentiment is important, and we relate it to a bigger better purpose of construction.  

It could have its origins from Isaiah 54:2-3 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations.” 

It is exactly this idea that drives a church to expand, if one is able to do so. In practice, it is the current church membership who must drive an expansion.  It takes hundreds of hours of volunteer efforts in addition to significant contributions to make a sizable expansion possible.  This means a special kind of congregation--people willing to make a commitment to this kind of work in addition to their worship.

    “We’re positioning this congregation for the needs of the 21st century in Medford,” said Pastor Joe Monahan. “It's been over thirty years since our last construction project, and the vision for this expansion stretches back more than ten years. As a growing congregation, this new space will accommodate our needs for worship, serving meals, education, meetings, and ministry for children and youth.”

    The 195-year-old congregation says a primary project goal is for the church to be “open to a wider community,” serving the spiritual and physical needs of its neighbors. In addition to improved accessibility, areas for community partners will be a highlight of the building project. The Family Life Center will house a new meeting space, new classrooms and multi-purpose gym/auditorium.

    “It’s a forward-looking vision of how we can continue to be a strong and vital presence in this community,” Monahan says. “Our mission is to love God, serve people and transform lives. The mission remains the same in every generation, but how we do it looks different through time. In an age of declining interest, it's important for the church to partner with other groups so that we can better serve our neighbors.”

    At this point, Phase 1 (which is site preparation) has been completed. Ground has been cleared; water, sewer, gas and electricity lines have been installed. A retention basin and grading were introduced for storm water management. The Church is working toward an August 2016 start for the construction of the building to be known as the Family Life Center. There are many details to manage as architectural and engineering designs are finalized and contractors are invited to the bidding process.

    “We’re excited to continue with this most significant expansion in our church’s history,” said Doug Fearon, Chair of the MUMC Expansion Team. “Many of the church’s programs are operating at full capacity and additional space will allow our ministry to flourish and impact the community.”

    In fact, the contemporary service has seen tremendous growth over the last few years.  It offers a more casual atmosphere highlighted by contemporary music. Because of the interest in this service and other church musical programs, leadership has gotten approval and is currently looking for a new musical director. The Contemporary Music Director will be a part-time position charged with leading and expanding the “No Excuses” band and selecting music for the fun and fresh 9:30 service.

    The new FLC will allow for growth in the contemporary service, more seating for events in the social hall, new space for youth ministry and additional education classrooms. By essentially doubling the square footage of the church, community outreach is ensured.  “We took into consideration Medford’s needs, not just ours,” said Associate Pastor Kathleen Stolz. “We already offer space to the Cub Scouts, Narcotics Anonymous, Rutgers Reading Program, American Red Cross Blood Drive and could host more important initiatives. We view this new space as an opportunity for outreach work within our congregation and beyond.”

    The construction should span about 12 to 15 months after breaking ground in August 2016. It has taken years and countless volunteer hours to get to this point, and the leadership is grateful to all who have made it happen. “We could not have arrived here without the people in the past whose service and generosity have brought us to this point,” remarked Joe Monahan. Only appointed to Medford in 2013, Monahan inherited the expansion plans but welcomed the challenge with open arms. 

Medford United Methodist has a clear mission of outreach to the community, and already serves the following groups: Christian Caring Center, CROP, Farmers Against Hunger, Urban Promise, Interfaith Hospitality Network, and the Migrant Worker Program to name just a few. With more space to serve, more youth and adults can explore their own desires to volunteer. Church service is a welcome part of spiritual life in the 21st century. One member and one congregation can make a significant difference.

    When looking around at the progress thus far, and maybe shaking off a little dirt from his shoes in the process, Pastor Monahan says happily “something good is happening.”

    For those interested in learning more about the expansion or visiting the site, occasional tours will be offered to the public.  Call 609.654.8111 to arrange for a tour or learn more about church services, music and youth programs or nursery school.

    Medford United Methodist Church has been a presence in the village since 1821, with the first sanctuary built in 1824. Since 1972, the church has been located on Hartford Road and is a vital part of the Medford community. The people of Medford United Methodist Church are committed to growing in faith. MUMC members love God, serve people and hope to transform lives. For more information visit medfordumc.org.

Source: Medford United Methodist Church


Categories: Construction, Religion, Faith

Tags: church construction, medford, medford church expansion, methodist church, mumc, NJ


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