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With a sanctuary filled to overflowing, the Ames First United Methodist Church faith community consecrated and dedicated its building addition on Sunday, March 24, 2013.
Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble, the Resident Bishop of the Iowa Annual Conference, was the guest preacher; his “Witness to the Word” was entitled, “Encouragement and Celebration.” "Something's up here," he noted, adding that "this is an occasion of a big blessing!"
The additional wing will help Ames First United Methodist Church “to fulfill its mission to serve and connect people with God and each other,” according to Rev. Fred Lewis, Senior Minister/Lead Pastor. “We want to be involved in helping people of all ages to connect in meaningful ways with God and each other, as well as connecting with others who share this earth as our home… Hosting a variety of ministries, we are trying to be a congregation that is driven to serve in Christian witness and discipleship.”
First United Methodist Church formed the building committee to discuss and form a plan to make the building more accessible and welcoming in 2006. Another goal was to expand the meeting space to accommodate the congregations various programs and ministries. Groundbreaking took place in August 2011 at the first phase was completed in April 2012. The final phase is nearly completed, with some work, including the labyrinth, yet to be finished.
"The new addition feels like growth, it feels positive," Rod Bodholdt said. "It feels like we're a growing church, not just a church that's trying to survive. It certainly shows that to our youth and our young families because of the opportunities that are available in this new facility. It also shows it to our long time members who have been supporting this church for years. From young to old it just feels good. It allows to grow ministries within our church and be able to do more and be more of what we feel like God is calling us to do. It's a special day and it will be a special years to come. This will put us in a position to be who we want to be as a church for a long long time to come."
The new main feature of the First United Methodist Church 17,000 square-foot addition is an elevator that stops at all floors in the building, making the church 90% handicap accessible. "The elevator will enable us to open our services and programming to many who have been unable to participate to two are inaccessibility,” Rev. Deanna Pullen said. A grand stairway was created in the new main foyer, allowing a larger space for visitors to enter and exit the church. In addition to the foyer space, a new gathering and social hall has also been built. A chapel has been added that will feature a ceiling mural painted by a local artist. Classroom space has been allocated for both youth and adult education classes.
"This entire project is helping to transform and revitalized the whole congregation and it's Christian discipleship," Pastor Fred Lewis said. “Building this addition is helping to renew this local community of faith and its mission and helping it become more vibrant and confident in its future as it continues to reach out to all persons, inviting them into a community of faith that is alive and meaningful, vital and resilient, nurturing them in God’s love, and then sending them to serve as Christian disciples.”
During the worship service, the gathered congregation declared the purpose of the new addition. Led by Rev. Deanna Pullen and Rev. Bethany Willers, they said, “we come together to consecrate and dedicate this new building addition, it's equipment and its furnishings. Let us open our hearts and minds to receive God’s word with faith… we, the members of this conversation, with glad and grateful hearts, consecrate and dedicate this building to the glory and in the name of the holy and triune God. We also consecrate and dedicate ourselves a new to that service of humanity in which we perform the true service of God.”
(Some of the reporting in this story is drawn from a special supplement published in the Ames Tribune.)