"It's been 14 years in coming," said the Rev. Dave Heckman, referring to a new ministry center at Russell United Methodist Church.
The vision started as a ministry center, then refocused towards a new sanctuary. With the economic problems at the time, he said it took a "long, long time to get a loan."
"In early 2013, the building committee started discussing a ministry center again. All of a sudden, everything started to fall in place. The building committee will back me on this, it's because we're back in step with the Lord - we're on the same page. A new sanctuary was not the right way to go," he added.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
New ministry center
In late July, ground was broken for the new ministry center at Russell United Methodist Church. This week, after excavation, footers have been poured and block for the foundation is being laid. The building is expected to be completed in the spring.
Heckman, who prefers to be called Pastor Dave, said the building could be used for a variety of ministries, but one of the biggest uses would be a social hall.
He added that he would hold a brainstorming meeting with the congregation during the 11 a.m. worship service on Sunday, Nov. 17, to see "what types of ministries we want to have."
He clearly has put a great deal of thought into this, as he has quite a few suggestions of his own.
"I would like to see a monthly community dinner, and possibly a Thanksgiving dinner for those who can't afford one of their own."
"There will be a half-gym, and there is a really neat Christian-based sports program we could offer to the community called 'Upward Sports', with basketball, football and even cheerleading," he added.
Heckman made it clear that he wants the new facility to serve the community in as many ways as possible, both spiritually and socially. "I would like to see us offer an after-school program, maybe a computer lab. There is going to be a library in it. I can envision us doing something for senior citizens," he said. "We are planning on having a collapsible stage, and we could possibly host a Family Life Network travelling dinner theater."
He also speculated on Friday night dances after football games, and community-centered facilities for banquets, wedding receptions and more. Heckman added that the new building would be handicapped-accessible, would seat about 150 people and have a commercial-type kitchen.
For a completion date, he said, "We're hoping for, maybe Easter, if not then late spring. We would like to get it under a roof before winter."