Adapting to the 21st Century

Expansion Again

In 1994 a Building Utilization and Development Committee began to study the needs of all of Asbury’s constituencies--children, youth, young adults, families, seniors, and staff. The committee was chaired by Dennis Pierce and consisted of 16 Asbury members and staff. First a vision and mission were developed and approved by the Administrative Board.

OUR VISION: To Glorify God as disciples of Jesus Christ

Share God’s Message
Nurture One Another
Minister to All God’s Children

The “BUD” committee met with many different groups to ascertain how our current facilities could be more efficiently and effectively used, and additional needs.

In 1997 the committee announced that architects were being interviewed with an attempt to create a possible vision of building adaptations and needs. The firm of Spillman, Farmer, Shoemaker,Pell, and Whildin was chosen for this effort. The architects met with members of the congregation and then drew up tentative plans and a model of possible additions. The plan incorporated a multi-purpose center; a new, larger entry and gathering space; a reconfigured sanctuary; and additional parking space. Several informal congregational meetings were held to discuss the possibilities.

A congregational meeting held on Sunday April 19, 1998 at 11:00 A.M. authorized the BUD committee to conduct a church-wide capital stewardship campaign in the Fall of 1998. District Superintendent the Reverend Theodore McCabe conducted the meeting. Based on the financial response from the congregation the committee would determine how much of the plan could be undertaken. After a great deal of discussion expressing both optimism and reservations, the congregation present voted in favor of the campaign.

The BUD committee employed the services of Resource Services, Inc. to help to guide the capital campaign in the Fall of 1998. The results of campaign indicated pledges of approximately $1.3 million over a three year period. While the congregation rejoiced in this result, the total was somewhat less than that projected as needed, and the BUD committee went back to work with the architects to attempt to provide as much of the congregational needs as possible.

After several years of design and discussion at the church, and much discussion and expense with South Whitehall Township a new proposal was presented to the congregation in 2002. A corporate meeting was called for June 9,2002 by Pastor McKonly and David Drown, chair of the Building Committee. The meeting convened immediately following the worship services at 12:30. After presentations of the scope of the project, expected costs, and funding, the congregation voted 124 to 56 in favor.

Between worship services on July 21, 2002 the church celebrated another new beginning. Various “representatives” of the teaching ministry, the Youth Council, the Church Council, the United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men, evangelism, Asbury’s traditions, the AIM committee, the congregation, the program council, new families and the building committee, turned ground. Invited guests who also participated included newly appointed District Superintendent Rodney Shearer and his wife, South Whitehall Township Commissioners Gary Search and Larry Bernhard, General contractor Hollenbach, and Project Manager Keith Leonard and his wife. Many other members of the congregation participated in the symbolic earth turning (the actual construction excavating had already recently begun).

Asbury was on the move again!

Spillman, Farmer, Shoemaker, Pell, Whilden, PC worked with the Building Committee to design the additions and renovations. Hollenbach Construction handled the general contracting the construction.

The Wesley Center, or multipurpose room, is 56 by 88 feet. This is roughly equivalent to a junior high school gymnasium. The room is adaptable for contemporary worship services, dramatic productions, or dinners. It becomes a gymnasium by switching to fluorescent lights and lowering basketball hoops, or setting up other athletic equipment.

Four classrooms, a welcome center, new restrooms and showers are included in the addition. An enclosed courtyard was used for a wedding even before the rest of the construction was completed.

The sanctuary retains the original dimensions, but is significantly altered. The Chancel area platform is enlarged, the choir moved forward and on the chancel floor, and a soundboard over the choir helps to project its music outward. The organ is now visible and the pulpit centered on the Chancel.

Laying of CornerstoneMay 18, 2003 the congregation gathered in the new welcome center area immediately following Sunday School for a ceremonial laying of the Wesley Center “cornerstone.” After the “Joyful Noisemakers” children’s choir offered, “God is the Great Builder”, various congregational “representatives” pulled colored ribbon strips from the front of the date stone. The ceremony celebrated the completion of approximately 90% of the project. Silent prayers were also offered that the Wesley Center would be complete enough to hold summer worship services while the sanctuary was being renovated.

At the completion of the 11:00 worship service on June 15, 2003, Pastor McKonly requested all who were able to take the hymnals from the pew and deliver them to the lower level for use in summer 2003 worship services. June 16 saw the beginning of major renWorship in the Wesley Centerovations of the sanctuary. The renovations were to be complete by Labor Day.

During the summer of 2003 worship was celebrated first in Fellowship Hall, and then, after occupancy permission, in the new Wesley Center. The setting drew favorable comments from most.

The newly remodeled church facilities were opened to the surrounding communities on Saturday September 27, 2003. The mood was festive as food, music, and fun was available to all attendees. Many of the regular membership volunteered to set up and facilitate the various activities. Leaders of various church committees and programs provided information and answered questions.

Renovated SanctuaryThe first use of the renovated sanctuary and the service of Consecration of the new facilities were set for September 28, 2003. In the regular morning services Pastor McKonly spoke of the need for a renewal in our personal consecration prior to building consecration. Her sermon was based on Hebrews 10:15-25.

At 3:00 PM the congregation gathered to celebrate the Consecration of the Building by Philadelphia Area Bishop Peter D. Weaver. He preached on the topic “A Fireplace”. He based his message on Acts 2:1-11. His theme was that the important thing for any congregation is not the building, but the “fire” in the building.

Following Bishop Weaver’s message, presentations were made by David Drown, chair of the Building Committee, Pastor McKonly, Business Manager (and Clerk of the Works) Thomas Gibson, Lay Leader Marsha Johnston, Commemorative Gifts Chair Beth Strohl, and Associate Pastor Daniel C. Brown. Many vocal and bell choirs participated.

The day was completed with light refreshments for all in the new Wesley Center. Many people enjoyed visiting with other members and the former staff and clergy members who had attended.

A new day, full of promise, had dawned for Asbury United Methodist Church.

View pictures from our 2002-2003 Construction Program and following Consecration Service in our Photo Gallery.

Researched and Compiled by John H. Gauger, Asbury Church Historian.