Small church moving to former car dealership

Posted: February 2, 2012 by efenster in Stories

“Mr. Angel, tear down this wall!”  That was the clarion call when Jack Angel, the patriarch of Black’s Chapel UMC in Mount Vernon, wielded a large sledgehammer to demolish a solid block wall.  That wall was located in a recently purchased building that is being re-purposed by the members of Black’s Chapel. 

 The building is a 19,200 sq. ft former car dealership that is being retrofitted for worship.  The new facility at 1800 West 4th Street represents a quantum leap from the current tiny country church.  In fact, our current church building is so small that in 2003, we had to move to the adjoining fellowship hall for worship.

 This move was not an easy thing to do since most of the seasoned members have emotional connections to the chapel.  Those connections are deep and include life events and much sweat equity.

 For the past 10 years, Pastor Lester Howard has led the congregation on a difficult journey of growth, both spiritual and in number, urging the body of believers to move to a more visible location.  With much consternation, the  congregation first purchased land on the east side of town and planned to build a new sanctuary but God, who moves in mysterious ways, lit a path to another new site in a very prominent location. 

 Subsequently, the glass showroom sanctuary is scheduled to be opened April 8, 2012 – Easter!  Pastor Howard was presented with a plaque stating that the sanctuary in the new church will be dedicated in his honor.

 When Jack Angel helped in tearing down that wall, he was also tearing down generational walls.  One of the older members remarked, “We see you working hard on the new church.  Now you know what we did and how we feel.”  All the members of this tiny congregation are excited and agree that this move is going to lead to good things.  In fact, just from the visible activity at the new site, we have acquired several new friends that have joined our worship service.

 Another added benefit with purchasing such a large property with more space and buildings than we currently need, was the opportunity to help another Christian organization, Young Life.  We have given them the use of a separate building (formerly the Body Shop), which they are renovating and using rent free.

Written by Don Viviano, member of Black’s Chapel UMC

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