When Adventist congregations outgrow buildings, they build larger ones. When old churches fall apart, they get replaced.
But Sandy, Ore., members have chosen to replace a church building that is neither overcrowded nor falling apart, and on Oct. 12 broke ground to that end.
Greg Middlestetter, long-time Sandy pastor who recently transferred to Eugene, Ore., explained members’ thinking: “You have chosen to sacrifice in order to better serve the people of this town, now and in the future.”
The old facility, twice remodeled, was built nearly 50 years ago on a moderately traveled Highway 26 at the outskirts of town. That highway is now a four-laner, and what were once outskirt lots have become the center of the town’s suburban business district.
“Four things were central in our decision to build a new church,” says Dan Tomlin, Sandy building committee chair.
“First was the fact that we need more Bible study classrooms. The town has changed since 1956, when our current building went up. We now have ethnic populations in the area, more older people with disabilities. We need more classrooms to serve their needs.
“Second, we discovered that our old church land has appreciated tremendously in value through the years. Yes, we could remodel,...add classrooms, replace aging carpet and our ailing central furnace, and fix a host of other wear-related problems. But for about the same money, we found we could sell the old building and use the proceeds to build a new, modern, high-efficiency, low-maintenance facility in a far quieter part of town.
“Third, there’s the safety factor. Because of the busy-ness of our old location and because the city intends to widen and lengthen the road it’s located on, we fear for the safety especially of our visitors and little children, who are often not conscious of the dangers on this corner. Our church also has steep staircases both inside and out. By building a structure that offers full access without stairs, in a safer area, we can serve everyone better.
“And finally, our residential district is moving eastward. We believe we have a ministry to the new residents of our town. We can strengthen that ministry by locating our church building into their neighborhood.”
Members two years ago authorized the purchase of 4.2 acres of property east of town, on Langensand Road, and have obtained permission to build. The land has been paid for in full, and members began raising funds in January 2003 to supplement the proceeds of the sale of the old building and its three parcels of land.
Based on the appraised value of the old building and property and funds already raised, Sandy members are moving forward. LeRoy Kelm, long-time missionary church-builder now living in Salem, Ore., will oversee construction of all phases of the building. The new, 22,000-square-foot structure will have an abundance of classrooms and community services areas, including a spacious fellowship hall.