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Published: Saturday, 6/23/2007

Building project moves faster than planned

BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Trevor Steele is associate pastor of McCord Road Christian Church.
Trevor Steele is associate pastor of McCord Road Christian Church.
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Members of McCord Road Christian Church are taking their building program's theme seriously: "Let's Keep Growing."

The church had planned to build additions in two phases to spread out the financial commitment of the congregation, which has 522 members.

But so much already has been pledged - bolstered by $300,000 from an anonymous donor - that the two phases are being combined into one, according to the Rev. Trevor Steele, associate pastor.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the church, 4765 McCord Rd.

Phase One of the building program will cost $1.9 million and include expansions of the nursery, preschool space, and atrium; new youth ministry and children's ministry wings, and more rest rooms, storage, and parking areas.

The cost of Phase Two was estimated at $700,000 and will add a new gymnasium/fellowship hall, commercial kitchen, prayer room, and expansion of the sanctuary to seat 415.

With financial support exceeding the projections, the church will build both phases simultaneously, according to Mr. Steele.

Bill Gospodarek, a member of the church's building committee, said the addition will more than double the size of the existing building.

McCord Road Christian Church, affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, dates back to the 1950s when a five-acre plot was purchased for $10,000. The Rev. J. Kenneth Evans was the organizing pastor, and the first worship was held in Maplewood Elementary School in December, 1964, according to Mr. Gospodarek.

Groundbreaking was in the fall of 1969 and the current building was dedicated in March, 1971.

The Rev. Andy Wiegand, a graduate of Harvard University and Gordon-Cowell Seminary, has been senior pastor since 1983. He is on sabbatical until early August.

When he came on board, Sunday morning attendance averaged 60 people.

The children's pastor, Becky Levison, said she "grew up in this church" and has watched attendance climb over the years, from 60 in 1983, to 150 in 1990, to 300 in 2002, and now more than 500.

More than 200 children, from infants to 6th-graders, attend McCord Road and many of the youngsters are supporting the new building program, Ms. Levison said, adding that 45 of them have pledged $4,200 to the project.

"It's neat to see a 3-year-old bring in a quarter, or a 6th grader get the opportunity to pledge money for God and to see the need to give back," she said.

The Rev. Ryan Osier was hired as youth minister in 2005.

McCord Road Christian Church offers a traditional worship service at 8:30 a.m. and contemporary services at 9:45 and 11:15 a.m. on Sunday.

Like the mix of worship styles, the sanctuary - expanded in 1997 to seat 300 - has a traditional stained-glass window and a modern architectural design, with high white walls and padded, moveable chairs arranged in rows.

There is a large video screen up front for song lyrics, videos, and sermon notes. Mr. Steele, a native of Northern Ireland, joked that it also could be used for subtitles when he preaches because of his Irish accent.

A graduate of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, Mr. Steele was a Presbyterian minister in Northern Ireland before joining the McCord Road staff in June, 2000.

- David Yonke



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