Westminster church to expand facility

By Nina Gougis

Westminster Presbyterian Church will expand its facility to accommodate its growing congregation. At $1.8 million, that growth does not come cheap.

The church, 830 N. Annie Glidden Road, began construction with a 40th anniversary and groundbreaking ceremony for a new sanctuary April 25.

The staff hopes to complete the facility by Dec. 17 and hold the first service in the new sanctuary on Christmas Day, said Karen Kim, associate pastor.

Until then, they will continue to hold services in the old sanctuary.

The project, funded by member contributions, will include the new sanctuary, the addition of two new classrooms, a new sprinkler system and other minor renovations to bring the building up to code.

The Westminster staff started to plan the addition three years ago to accommodate its growing congregation of about 250 members, Kim said.

Kim said the expansion was necessary because the current sanctuary is filled to capacity. The new 3,625-square-foot sanctuary will be able to hold approximately 350 people.

All together, the classrooms and sanctuary will add a total of 6,736 square feet to the existing facility, increasing its overall square footage by more than 50 percent.

“We’re adding on so that we can continue to be a place that welcomes newcomers,” Kim said. “We’re really excited about continuing outreach to the university and the community.”

Katie Caldwell, a sophomore communication major, has attended Westminster for two years.

“When I first came here during my freshman year, all of the people were really friendly and I felt very welcome. I have been coming here ever since,” she said.

Other students, like Jeremy Bearden, were attracted by the church’s group of students.

Bearden, a senior political science major, said he visited several churches for more than a year before he started going to Westminster.

Although the church is more traditional than others he has visited, he especially enjoys the “strong college group,” he said.

Bearden said he thinks the new addition will help the church better serve surrounding students and residents alike.

“It definitely opens up new possibilities for more college students and more people in the community,” Bearden said.