Growth prompts McLouth church’s project
The need was clear at the McLouth Church of the Nazarene. But the decision still was difficult.
Parishioners knew they'd outgrown their picturesque white church just east of downtown.
"We tried really hard to try to figure out how to move that building," said the Rev. David Showalter. "It would have looked really neat out on our property as a wedding chapel."
But the costs kept climbing, to upwards of $60,000. So church members decided to sell their building and construct a new one on seven acres east of town along Kansas Highway 16.
So far, the basement walls are up, and plans call for the church to move in about six months.
"That's what our goal is," said church secretary Sherry Alterman. "I think we'll be able to attain that goal."
During the past four to five years, the church has seen a surge in attendance. On average, 140 people attend Sunday church services and 100 participate in Sunday school, Alterman said.
"We were just completely out of room," she said. "We really push Sunday school. If you don't go to Sunday school, you're missing out."
Some Sunday school classes have met in private homes.
During two months last year, Showalter said, more than 150 parishioners squeezed into the church, which is more than 100 years old.
"Realistically, we don't have room for 100," he said.
The new 14,400-square-foot church will be constructed with a good deal of volunteer labor. Church members estimate the project will cost about $500,000. They plan to finance about half of that.
"We are at this very moment looking for a kind banker who will give us good interest," Alterman said.
A Tonganoxie area couple plan to purchase the existing church and transform it into a bible college and prayer house.
Although the Nazarene church's new building won't feature the same impressive stained glass windows that the existing church does, it will offer space for the growing congregation, which now spills over into two trailers for Sunday school and other gatherings.
"Everybody will have their own space," said Showalter, who's ministered to the congregation for three years.
And the church has room for more growth on its 7.5 acres.
"There's a real possibility that on this first phase we won't get all of the interior finished," Showalter said. "We're committed to paying as we go."
The pastor attributes the church's growth to work done by his predecessor and to parishioners' open arms to the community.
He has faith the church's construction project will go well.
"For a church our size to do what we're doing it either takes a miracle and/or a lot of faith," Showalter said. "Our motto is 'nothing is impossible with God.'"