Expanding a dream
Published 11:21 am Monday, August 3, 2015
Asbury United Methodist Church launches $14 million campaign for new sanctuary
Story by AMY JONES
One of Shelby County’s most prominent churches will soon undergo major changes.
In late April, Asbury United Methodist Church, located on Cahaba Valley Road, kicked off a $14 million capital campaign — known as the REACH Campaign — to fund a new sanctuary, as well as a new organ, new athletic fields, additional parking and additional space to be used for children, youth and adult ministries, choir and music rehearsals, and administrative and office space.
Additionally, the campaign will fund a renovation of the current sanctuary, choir room and offices.
Church Administrator Mike Gibbs said the expansion is essential for Asbury, which has consistently seen full or near-capacity attendance at Sunday 11 a.m. services for the past three years.
“This service is held in a sanctuary that is designed to seat 700. Many Sundays we have 700 plus in attendance at the 11 a.m. service. On high holy days like Easter, we have to simulcast into other rooms in the facility. For those who desire a traditional, liturgical experience, this is unsatisfactory,” Gibbs said. “Additionally, parking is a very big issue. The needs for this expansion are obvious to almost everyone who attends.”
Gibbs said planning for the campaign began in late 2012, when a group of 18 Asbury members developed a master plan to keep the church growing. That group found expanding and improving the facility to be the top priority for the church’s master plan.
Gibbs said Asbury officials hope to raise between $6 million-$8 million through pledges from members, with the rest of the needed amount to be financed. After six weeks of the campaign, church members had already pledged just over $4 million.
Some Asbury members are sacrificing for the greater good of the church expansion, Gibbs said.
“One family was planning on purchasing a long-dreamed-for pontoon boat this summer. Instead, they are deferring this dream and committing the funds to REACH,” he said. “Another family is going to keep their older car running for three more years and has committed the $25,000 they would have spent to the REACH Campaign. These are just some of the many examples of the sacrifices that members are considering in their support of this dream.”
The new sanctuary would seat at least 1,200, and the church would add almost 30,000 square feet of additional space for children, youth and adult ministries, choir and music rehearsals, and administrative and office space. Outside, the church would add 336 new parking spaces, almost doubling the amount of parking available.
“Asbury United Methodist Church is unique in the southern 280 corridor. We are the only large, mainline traditional church with a contemporary option in this area,” Gibbs said. “Many families, especially young families, are seeking this form of faith community. We need to be able to continue to provide this form of worship and community with excellence without being limited by our facility.”
Church officials expect to break ground on the foundation of the new building in spring or summer 2016. The additional parking spaces could be installed as early as fall of this year, Gibbs said.
The plan is for construction to be complete and services to be in the new building by spring 2017, he said.
However, Asbury will continue to grow — and the church buildings will grow right alongside, Gibbs said.
“This expansion is a testimony to the vision and foresight of the founding members of Asbury United Methodist Church. Over 25 years ago, when the initial building on our site was still being planned, the site was laid out with the current expansion in mind. At the time, Asbury had just over 150 members. They had a vision of a church that would serve thousands,” Gibbs said. “In my office, I have that tattered old blueprint. It has two more phases for more education and more ministry space mapped out — and more parking, of course. I am sure that we will eventually implement their full vision.”
For more information, visit Reach.asburyonline.org.