Church doubles sanctuary capacity for growing congregation
More than a decade ago, the Grace Assembly of God in New Whiteland, Ind. was recognized as one of the fastest growing churches in the Assemblies of God. Since then, the church has continued to experience steady growth; today the church has approximately 11,000 members. In order to sustain its growth, the congregation decided to expand its current 16,000-square-foot, multi-use facility by building a new sanctuary onto the existing structure.
In summer 2009, the church purchased property south of its facility to make room for the expansion. Several months later, the congregation began the Higher Capital Campaign to raise money to build a new sanctuary. The campaign lasted more than three years.
On Sunday, May 4, 2014, the congregation saw the fruits of its labor realized when the church hosted its first service in a new 24,000-square-foot sanctuary.
“At our first service in the new sanctuary, we were at 80 percent capacity,” said Jim Burris, the owner’s representative. “The construction turned out great and the congregation is very pleased. It definitely has the wow factor.”
F.A. Wilhelm Construction, construction manager for the $6.5 million addition, broke ground in May 2013. Wilhelm Project Manager Ryan DeLong said the new building provides 1,250 seats, doubling the church’s previous seating capacity. Additionally, every seat has a view of the main stage with new stadium seating installed.
“We built the structure from the ground up including the main sanctuary and front lobby. In the sanctuary, we installed precut construction stadium seating, which can be difficult to do with the concrete,” said DeLong. “The systems and seating were provided by the owner; however, Wilhelm managed the whole project from start to finish.”
“The sanctuary is designed to be like a performing arts center,” added Burris. “One of the goals was for it to be very media driven with state-of-the-art AV technology.”
The congregation also had specific goals for the structure’s exterior, including increasing the church’s visibility from U.S. Highway 31.
Four boundaries, including U.S. Highway 31, the existing, and two existing utility easements presented challenges to the project.
“We needed to build the structure as large as possible within these boundaries. This building handled those challenges. The new sanctuary has a definite presence, especially from U.S. Highway 31.”
The Grace Assembly of God congregation is looking forward to many more services and other activities held in its new sanctuary. Summer services are held every Sunday at 10 a.m. Beginning in the fall, the church will offer two services at 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.