Generous givers make church renovation possible

Published 10:15 am Friday, April 17, 2009

Mt. Signal Baptist church is almost three–quarters of a century old, but worshippers arriving for Easter services might well have thought they were walking into a new building.

The congregation met for a month in the fellowship room while work was done upstairs.

“Easter Sunday was our first service in the sanctuary since the renovations,” Pastor Leonard Irvin said.

He said the work took longer than expected because workers found structural damage that had to be repaired. Some outside doors were also replaced.

“We gave it a complete color change for a more contemporary look,” he said, indicating the newly–painted walls from the foyer to Sunday school rooms and the area behind the sanctuary. Chair railing and crown molding finished off the paint job.

Worshippers now walk across ceramic tile in the foyer and beautifully refinished hardwood floors in the sanctuary to sit on pews that have also been refinished. Outside light plays through colorful stained–glass windows that replace old ones, which had broken panes.

Of all the changes, renovations to the choir and speakers platform are probably the ones most noticed. Organ and piano wells were removed and the platform extended. A beautiful black Roland electronic baby grand piano now graces one end of the platform. Music from the piano is enhanced by a new Bose sound system.

“Our old system came from a bar where it was used to do karaoke,” Irvin said. Although the congregation was glad to have the old system, he added, they are especially thankful for the new one.

Outside work included landscaping, metal railing and the steeple cleaned and painted.

Start–to–Finish Construction Company, owned by members of the church family, was responsible for the sanctuary work, Irvin said. He added other church members and a few non–members also helped.

Generous gifts from a couple who was married at Mt. Signal 42 years ago made major improvements possible, he said.

“God has financially blessed them, and I understand why; they give back and bless others with what God has given them,” Irvin said.

Mt. Signal Baptist Church was organized in 1941. Irvin, a retired Birmingham police officer, became interim pastor in 2003, and permanent, bi-vocational pastor the next year.