By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
Bethany Christian Church is not only starting a new year but also starting a new era in its history.
This Sunday will be the first service for Bethany Christian at its new location on SR 57S in Washington. The congregation will move from its current location on U.S. 50E.
The decision to move, according to Senior Minister Matt Merold, was easy.
“Everyone was stuffed like sardines,” Merold joked.
The process, Merold said, started seven years ago when church leaders were looking into expanding. The church population has continued to grow and instead of offering more services, they decided to build a new church.
“It got started in the form that we were landlocked,” Merold said. “As growth continued, it became inevitable.”
And the inevitability was found on the development of southern Washington. Church member Andy Bean volunteered to be project manager for the new building. Bean said the elders had surveyed many sites for the new church, but the SR 57 location was good for growing the church in Washington.
Then the design process started.
“We had interviewed a couple architects and we chose the Aspen Group out of Indianapolis,” Bean said.
After meeting with church leaders, pastors and members, the group came up with its original design. Bean said it was “as big as Walmart.”
“Then we scaled it down a little,” he joked.
The final design now resembles what passers-by have seen go up for the past year. Construction started in February 2012, and Bean was pleased with its results. Local firm Taber/Crane was tasked with the contracting.
“It’s gone well,” Bean said. “There are several things we will need to finish over the next month or so.”
Sunday services start at 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., but a dedication will not be held until later this month. Merold explained Sunday will be a continuation of what they have always done.
“The building is not changing us in any way, it is just a toolbox for us to continue our ministry,” Merold said.
The new toolbox also has some new tools, but mainly the space to accommodate all the worshippers. Sunday’s services will be a new chapter in the long history of the church.
“We are pretty excited,” Merold said. “It beats people sitting on steps in the foyer.”
Bean said, “It will be a big change for all of us at the church.”