Places of grace - Sanctuary work is complete at rural Franklin United Methodist

5/28/2010

Bellringer Wanda McElhiney announces the start of worship at Franklin UMC on May 16.
Bellringer Wanda McElhiney announces the start of worship at Franklin UMC on May 16.
Acolytes Kelsey, left, and Savanna carry out the light of Christ on May 16 from the newly completed sanctuary of the Franklin church.
Acolytes Kelsey, left, and Savanna carry out the light of Christ on May 16 from the newly completed sanctuary of the Franklin church.

A garden sprawls in the field beside Franklin United Methodist Church. It is apparent that God’s growing season has returned to both.

Observed on May 16, the rows of vegetables showed healthy evidence of God’s gift of rain in recent days. And at the rural church in South Oklahoma City District, 81 people dedicated God’s gift of a newly completed sanctuary.

The building project began 28 years ago, stalled, and was recharged in 2009. However, worshippers this May morning did not dwell on the past. The church is collecting items for a women’s crisis center in Norman and for U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East. Lay leader Brad Rogers announced a June visit by a missionary from Mexico. A Father’s Day Breakfast and Vacation Bible School are scheduled.

This day, the "praise reports" greatly outnumbered prayer requests. One couple announced their 59th wedding anniversary; they married in the Franklin church. Pastor Gerry Rhodes said a wedding already has taken place in the newly finished sanctuary.

Rev. Rhodes said the church is debt-free; much of the construction work was handled in-house.

The space found use even when merely a shell of a building. For six years it was a co-op site for Child SHARE, a program of the United Methodist Circle of Care agency, supporting foster care families. A program representative said he always will remember the grace extended to the Child SHARE families by the Franklin church.

"Because you gave away your church, God has given you this sanctuary," said guest preacher Frankye Johnson, South Oklahoma City District superintendent. Bright wall hangings encircled the congregants occupying new pews. The space has greatly expanded seating capacity.

Some finishing work remained on Dedication Sunday. Baseboards and altar rail were not yet in place; a new church sign awaited installation beside Franklin Road. An alcove for the sound system was almost complete. And ideas were growing on potential uses for the former sanctuary space. Franklin UMC presses ahead —all in God’s good time.


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