The sanctuary and gym of Park Street Brethren Church in Ashland are currently undergoing renovations in order to create a more adequate place of worship.
“Our church has been blessed to experience significant growth in the last few years, especially among young families,” said Nate Bebout, senior pastor at Park Street Brethren Church. “We were forced to admit that our current spaces were no longer able to adequately serve our church’s needs.”
The church is converting the current gym into a new worship center and in the spring of 2021 they plan to begin the demolition of the old sanctuary and turn it into a multipurpose space shared by the preschool and children’s ministry.
Bebout said the renovations and new additions are primarily for the purpose of allowing the continuation of serving the community.
The process began in 2016 with many members being involved in the planning, coordinating and fundraising aspects of the project.
In 2018 the church voted and 96 percent of the congregation affirmed the plan.
Jack Shultz, freshman entrepreneurship major at AU, has attended Park Street for five years and is most excited about a bigger space to hold more people.
“I’m excited to see everything that can be accomplished with a bigger and newer space,” Schultz said.
“There’s no such thing as conflict-free change, but we’ve worked through this process to be honest, transparent and empathetic to those who are struggling with the transition,” said Bebout.
Megan Icenhour, sophomore integrated mathematics education major, has attended Park Street for her entire life. She thinks the renovations are going to be beneficial for the church but is sad to think of the loss.
“It will make things much easier for the staff and volunteers that help set up the spaces for Sunday morning services… I think it’s going to turn out to be a great space and a blessing for the church,” Icenhour said. “It is a little sad to think that the sanctuary will be torn down. I’ve had a lot of memories in that space.”
Although the congregation is excited to see new spaces that fit their needs, Bebout said the congregation is ready to return to fulfilling their mission.
“The mission of our church remains the same—to empower authentic disciples who live life on a mission with God. I think the thing we’re most looking forward to is spending less time focusing on facilities and more time serving our community and sharing Christ’s love,” Bebout said.
There are still two services held on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., despite the construction, that fall into the blended worship style category. There are both traditional hymns and contemporary music.
When AU students are on campus, Sunday morning attendance jumps above 500 people, Bebout said.
The renovation of the gym is still five or six weeks away from completion, and the sanctuary is still over a year away from starting renovation, but “this has been a faith building exercise for our community,” Bebout said. “It has been a joy to watch our church earnestly seeking His will and then stepping out in faith when we felt His leading.”