Archive for Thursday, February 22, 2007

Preparing the way

Eudora United Methodist Church’s new building continues to rise despite harsh weather

February 22, 2007

In spite of the snow and ice, Don Bradshaw remains confident.

Bradshaw is the project manager for the Eudora United Methodist Church's new worship center.

Over the past months, he has seen the skeleton of the building slowly rise in a field south of Kansas Highway 10. This week, if all goes as planned, he'll raise the roof.

If so, it will be a milestone in the worship center's construction.

"I'd say we're about halfway there right now," Bradshaw said.

The congregation broke ground on the $1.4 million building in July 2006 and since then it has been Bradshaw's responsibility to see it is built right.

"Weather has been a big problem for us to say the least," Bradshaw said. "The contractor hasn't been able to spend the time on the job."

In all, Bradshaw predicted the wintry weather has set the project back almost two full months.

At this pace, the members would celebrate their first service sometime in May, he said.

When finished, the church will house a congregation that currently has no building. EUMC closed a deal on its former building at 703 Church St., last August.

In the intervening time, the congregation has used Warren-McElwain Mortuary/Eudora Chapel for its services. It has also strengthened ties with other local congregations.

Both EUMC and St. Paul United Church of Christ had a combined Ash Wednesday service.

"It's kind of fun to get together this way," the Rev. Michael Tomson-DeGreeff said.

The wait between buildings inspired an ad campaign by the congregation. They adopted a logo made up of a series of images depicting the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly.

"We kind of joke that right now we're in the chrysalis," Tomson-DeGreeff said. "We're kind of forming and shaping and then in the late spring or early summer we'll be coming out of the chrysalis."

With weather delaying the grand opening of the church, Bradshaw has seen congregation members helping the metamorphosis along.

"The congregation installed all the in-floor heat in the building," Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw predicted more would volunteer once he places the roof on the building.

"The more that goes up on the building, the more that they can see and the more excited they get," Bradshaw said.

The congregation has strong emotions tied up in its old church, Bradshaw said. He conjectured there's something in seeing the end of the old building and the beginning of the new one that really draws people, he said.

"Once you can understand what it's going to look like, then it changes people," he said. "They want to be more involved, then, as they understand it more."

After the roof is placed, the next big change will be the installation of brickwork and more concrete poured on the front parking lot side. By April, workers will start the installation of siding, Bradshaw said.

Once construction on the building finishes, DeGreeff predicted rapid progress.

"Probably the most important piece is getting the permits," he said.

The congregation can't begin worship in the new facility until it gains the building inspector's approval.

"Once that happens we'll be in there immediately," Tomson-DeGreeff said. "Nothing will hold us back."

For the moment though, Bradshaw is focused on the roof.

"Once the roof gets on, we're all going to breathe a little easier," he said. "The roof is always the biggest thing."

It all depends on the weather conditions, he said.

"You never know what you're going to get into so you just have to work through it," Bradshaw said. "As far as wintertime in Kansas, you just try to keep thinking positive and keep moving forward."

He's seen his own spirituality move forward in sync with the project, he said.

"Because of the things we go through each day in the process and the people we meet and the people we work with, and all the unknowns we deal with, it's humbling," he said.

"So I grow more spiritually every day knowing that we're going to get through this as a church and it just gets better every day."

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