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First Methodist to break ground Sunday on addition

By Noelle Edwards
nedwrads@salisburypost.com
Ten years after starting the process, First United Methodist Church in Salisbury will break ground on its new addition Sunday on West Fisher Street.
The groundbreaking service, to happen after the 11 a.m. worship service, will use responsive readings, scriptures and prayers that were used for the sanctuary’s groundbreaking service in 1961.
The church’s chancel choir will also perform.
The addition will be built on land that used to hold three 100-year-old buildings. The church bought the land with the intention of expanding.
The church had run out of land near the existing downtown building to expand on, but the buildings that used to sit at 117, 119 and 121 W. Fisher St. did not accommodate the church’s needs.
A lengthy battle between the church and historic preservation groups ensued after the church announced plans to demolish the buildings.
Eventually, the groups reached an agreement when the church offered to let Downtown Salisbury Inc. and the Historic Preservation Commission move the buildings to another plot of land.
The two organizations weren’t able to raise enough money for the move, though, so they salvaged what they could from the buildings, and the church demolished them in June 2006.
“Sometimes there are some things you just can’t (save), for one reason or another,” senior pastor Steve Haines said.
He said the city and Downtown Salisbury have been helpful as the church has moved ahead with addition.
Other factors delayed the addition since 2006.
Haines said when bids for the job came in, they were all higher than what church leaders expected, and they didn’t think they could move ahead at even the lowest bid and still be financially responsible as a congregation.
At first, the recession seemed like yet another obstacle blocking the path. But actually construction prices have gone down because of the recession.
“If we were ever going to do it, it was now or never,” Haines said.
He said the church is still having to take out more loans than they had hoped would be necessary, but he said it’s more feasible now than it would have been a year or two ago.
Despite Sunday’s groundbreaking, real work on the addition won’t start until October or so.
Haines said it could start sooner, but builders are checking plans against the city code, which has been updated since the original drawings were done.
He said they want to make sure everything is as it should be before they get into the construction very far.

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