What began nearly three years ago as a dream to bring the sanctuary’s original beauty out from hiding behind a ceiling is now becoming a reality. The first worship services back in the renovated sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church of Glen Rose will be at 8:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 21. Each service will begin in the family center on Barnard Street and then process to the renovated sanctuary.
After many years of planning, the sanctuary renovation began in May. The congregation held the final service in the sanctuary on May 18. The whole congregation emptied the building, and construction started the next day.
Contractors will removed the second floor and opened the entire sanctuary to expand the size of the altar area and increase the seating area by 50 to 100 more. A beautiful wood ceiling was also restored. The remodel will also reoriented the sanctuary back to its original caddy-corner layout instead of a north-south orientation.
The renovation has involved removing all interior walls and rooms, removing the upstairs balcony and classrooms, and removing the false ceiling. While restoring the original wood ceiling and beams, 24 stained glass windows were revealed. The renovated sanctuary will seat many more people with a larger chancel space and more room for the choir. The whole room will be laid out diagonally the way the original was arranged before an earlier remodeling in 1964. The old fellowship hall next door has been converted to provide restrooms, two nurseries, and a choir room.
The renovation was begun because of the condition and limitations of the sanctuary, which was built in 1916. The sanctuary became too small and limited.
The wiring in the building was originally designed to provide lighting only. The wheelchair access was not up to code and there was no foyer for fellowship space. This renovation is only half of a larger project which will eventually include an addition with new drive up entrance on ground level, a large foyer, nurseries, classrooms, choir room, restrooms, and offices.
The remodel updated amenities including video screens and a state-of-the-art sound system. New pews and furniture reminiscent of an earlier day in the life of the church were added as well.
In order for architects to get a better understanding of the church’s historic integrity and appearance, the building committee met with long-time congregants and reviewed old photographs.
Additional stained glass windows have been installed, along with a new Rodgers organ. This approach to the worship needs of the congregation has allowed them to preserve their historic church building while providing an up to date sanctuary which will adapt to the needs of the congregation for the next 50 to 100 years.
One of the surprises during the process was the discovery of an unknown fire. When the wallboards were removed to reveal the studs, evidence of a significant fire was found near a chimney. A potbelly stove was once vented into the chimney and had evidently flamed out and caught the surrounding structural wood on fire. It appeared to have been suffocated within the walls by lack of oxygen, but not before doing significant damage to the wood. Part of the second floor structure had been held up by the chimney ever since.
FUMC committed $1.2 million to the project
The community is invited to join the congregation for this special occasion. A Christmas Eve candle light service will also be held at 7 p.m. with open communion beginning at 6 p.m. Formal reconsecration of the building and its furnishings will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday Jan. 11.