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CUMC opens new sanctuary Sunday

The joyous ringing of the bell in the tower of Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street this Sunday, Nov. 1, will call the congregation to worship for the first time in the newly-remodeled sanctuary.

Services will be held at 8:15 and 11 a.m., with Sunday School classes for all ages, children and adults, between the services, at 9:30.

The church has a new outside appearance, as well as a new sanctuary. As worshipers arrive on Sunday they will enter a building that is patterned after the church that stood at the same location from 1908 until 1968.

A major aspect of the redesign of the building on the outside is the bell tower. This is a replication of the 1908 bell tower, and the bell itself has been cared for during the years since 1968 while the building did not have a bell tower. It is with great anticipation that the congregation looks forward to the return of this important symbol in the life of the church.

The building project began more than four years ago when problems with the roof and with structural beams over the sanctuary were discovered. At that time, the congregation felt that a “Band-Aid fix” would not be suitable over a long period of time, and discussions were held about whether to rebuild or to remodel, and whether to keep the church in its downtown location or to seek a different site. The congregation voted overwhelmingly to stay at the same historical location, and a hard look at the financial reality of the undertaking led to the ultimate remodeling/renovation project.

Members of the congregation began clearing the sanctuary and moving items into storage throughout other parts of the building on April 13, the day after the Easter Sunday worship services. The church offices and the food pantry were moved down the block and across the street. For the next six months, with much gratitude to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, the congregation held Sunday services and weekly choir practice in the Parish Hall. Over the past week, busy church members have been cleaning and moving everything back to its proper spot and putting the finishing touches on the building in anticipation of the first service on Nov. 1, All Saints Sunday.

Ernie Karger, chairman of the board of trustees, has served as the site superintendent. He has been at the site every day since the beginning of the project, from the first day of moving furniture and tearing out walls and timbers to the weeklong process of moving back in and restoring order to the finished project.

Ernie said, “The volunteers and the contractors have worked very well together. I appreciate the support, the efficiency, and the high degree of camaraderie that has been evident throughout the months of the project.”

Pastor Don Ford spoke for the congregation when he said, “I am grateful for the dedication and expertise Ernie has given during the construction project.”

Ernie and Pastor Ford have emphasized that a major priority of the construction process was to hire and utilize local contractors, sub contractors, and work force as much as possible, At least 80 percent of the work force has been from Pagosa Springs. The few exceptions had to be made when there was not a local firm available to complete certain aspects of the project.

Both men acknowledge and appreciate the countless hours that have been given by the laity of CUMC. They realize that the generosity of the time and talent given by many church members is what has enabled the project to be completed without debt.

Jarrell Tyson, care and nurture pastor, added, “This is truly the congregation’s church because of all the time and effort so many put into this endeavor.”

All in the community are always invited to worship at CUMC, and will be especially welcome to attend services on this special Sunday morning. As Pastor Ford said earlier this week, “Come and see.”