Congregation bids farewell to the construction of the church | Winchester Star

WINCHESTER – It was a bittersweet but hopeful morning for parishioners of First United Methodist Church on Sunday as they said goodbye to the North Braddock Street church building where people have worshiped for nearly 100 years.

Sunday marked the last services in the church. The congregation decided to sell the building and build a new church on 16.2 acres at 362 Apple Pie Ridge Road in Frederick County. Members hope the new location will allow the congregation to grow. The church has owned the land since 1991. Until the new church is built, the congregation will hold Sunday services in the auditorium of James Wood Middle School at 1313 Amherst St.

“The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people,” congregants sang during the closing service in 11:00.

The anthem’s lyrics rang true for several longtime members of the church as they reflected on what it means to leave their place of worship.

Frederick County resident Virginia Stanley has been a member of the First United Methodist Church for about 30 years. She moved to the area from California and was visited by a former pastor of her home church. It was then that she decided to commit.

Stanley said she will miss the beautiful brick building of the church, where she saw her son get married. Although she will miss the building, she said what matters is that people still worship together.

“We take everything else with us,” Stanley said. “We take the minister and the people.”

Brenda Dick, 69, of Frederick County, has been a member of the church for more than 40 years.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said of the church exit. “It’s a beautiful sanctuary and I’ll miss it, but I also know that sometimes moving forward requires change. It may not make things really easy, but it’s part of life.

Vivienne Jackson, 93, of Winchester, has been a member of the church for nearly 50 years. She said she felt optimistic about the move.

“There is a lining, there is a ray of sunshine. There is something else happening and we just have to trust in the Lord, and I know it will be okay,” she said.

Two services were held on Sunday morning. About 50 people attended the second service at 11 a.m.

“Jesus, faithful companion, accompany us, as we enter new territories, frightening places, exciting places,” the members prayed aloud together. “Those that evoke memories of past spaces and those that give us hope for the future.”

At the end of the service, several members emerged from the sanctuary holding symbolic church artifacts that they will take to their new place of worship, including a banner with the name of the church and children’s favorite toys such than a toy vacuum cleaner and a toy truck. .”

The first United Methodist Church was built in 1922 at 308 N. Braddock St. Maintenance of the aging building and having only 11 parking spaces were among the reasons the congregation decided to move.

Designs for the new church call for a 15,495 square foot, single-story structure with a sanctuary that can accommodate just over 300 people. The estimated cost is $3.8 million. The congregation plans to use the money from the sale of the old church building to help build the new one. The church is up for sale for $1.6 million.

About 120 people regularly attend services at the church.

Reverend Will White, who pastored the church for 11 years, said while the move is bittersweet, it is mostly hopeful.

“It’s going to give this church a few hundred more years,” White said.

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