First Presbyterian Church celebrates $4.5 million renovation

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | 8:43 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — First Presbyterian Church of Columbia will introduce its newly renovated house of worship to the public at 4:30 p.m. on Friday with an open house and a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The $4.5 million renovation lasted 18 months and aimed to increase both handicap accessibility and the size of the fellowship hall. The new addition also offers a large space for the church to conduct its new blended service, Executive Administrative Assistant Chrissy Jones said.

If you go

What: Ribbon cutting and open house

When: 4:30 p.m. Friday

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 16 Hitt St.

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The renovation connected three existing buildings with a new central building to allow increased accessibility. The addition features two new elevators, an extended social hall, wireless Internet, a built-in projector for PowerPoint presentations and a new sound system.

The idea for the church's new blended worship service, called "The Offering," came after renovation plans began, but the two seemed to complement one another, Jones said. The first blended service was held on Palm Sunday. While the church continues to offer traditional services, the blended service offers an informal worship experience.

"Without the new space, I'm not sure we could do blended services as well," Jones said. "We wouldn't have had the appropriate space." The new space is also used for wedding receptions and congregational meals.

Blended worship leader and Director of Campus Ministry Preston Turley describes the music as a departure from traditional styles. Contemporary music helps the church adhere to a reformed worship pattern through the communal atmosphere it elicits, Turley said.

“We try to include hospitality in the service. People are free to relax and feel uninhibited. We are a communal body,” Turley said. The blended service includes semi-circle seating, and coffee is served on Sunday mornings. The church has a praise band for the services as well.

The economic climate did not deter contributions from members, Jones said. “It wasn’t too bad. We have a lot of generous people in the congregation. We’re in the third year of the capital campaign, and the congregation as a whole has been behind us very strongly.”

Jones also said that members contributed through monetary donations and volunteer work. 

Jones hopes that the renovated building and blended service will draw new members to the church.  

“We want to provide a loving environment for people to feel comfortable no matter what worship style,” Jones said.

The church, founded in 1828, is the second oldest in Columbia. The ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, and Cathy Barton and Dave Para will play at the Chez at 5 p.m. The church is located at 16 Hitt St.



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