Places of grace - Curtain rising on second act in Edmond
Attendance was averaging 120 worshippers when Acts 2 United Methodist Church moved into its own building in northwest Edmond. The year was 2005.
Within two months, "we were at 240," said founding pastor Mark Foster.
This year, attendance is averaging 429. For Easter 2010, the church set a record: 602 people.
Thus, as Christians mark Pentecost this month, Acts 2 is kicking off a capital campaign. The church plans to construct a new sanctuary building and to expand the existing facility.
Some funds are being generated by ideas outside the box. Members have donated an airplane, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a personal watercraft, handmade furniture, motor home—and dedicated all sale proceeds to the new building campaign.
Other statistics are noteworthy in addition to attendance numbers.
In 2007, Acts 2 moved two portable buildings and a large storage container onto the property. The portables add 3,000 square feet of meeting space to the 10,000 square feet that are in the main building.
"All of our space, other than the nursery, is multi-use," Foster explained. One room may house 10 events during a week.
"You’re getting a sense of why" a building project is planned, the pastor commented as he led a facility tour. "Even the halls are not wide enough for all the young parents trying to get to the nursery and back to the sanctuary."
He said, "People are hungry for God and, when they find Him, they come."
The tour of the current building revealed lots of practical design choices, hopefully portents of future construction decisions.
Among them: The sanctuary converts for church dinners; all the furnishings are moveable and the floor is flat. Low light softens "Mary’s Sanctuary," for nursing mothers. What appear to be big multimedia screens are merely painted white rectangles, framed by pieces of wood trim—a cost-saving idea that works, Foster explained. Child-sized bathroom fixtures prevail.
Acts 2 UMC sets on 35 acres, at the southeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Covell Road. The land debt is paid.
To the south, an elementary school is expected to open in 2013, with a middle school to follow, Foster explained. Rooftops are visible in a nearby new housing development. Covell Road is due to be widened.
Goal for the new building project is 33,000 square feet, doubling space for worship, children and youth ministries, and parking. A Pennsylvania Avenue entry will be created. The capital drive seeks $1.5 million, to retire remaining debt on the existing building and start work on the new facility.