First United Methodist breaks ground on addition
By Shavonne Potts
Digging into the ground and turning over the earth was an exciting time for the more than 900 members of First United Methodist Church in Salisbury.
The church broke ground on its new addition on West Fisher Street. It was a long time coming, but the Sunday ceremony signaled a look to the future.
The church first began this process 10 years ago, said senior pastor the Rev. Steve Haines.
The church bought the land, which used to house three 100-year-old buildings, to expand. When the church announced plans to demolish the buildings, historic preservation groups made appeals to save the structures.
The groups and the church agreed to let Downtown Salisbury Inc. and the Historic Preservation Commission move the buildings. There wasn’t enough money raised and some materials were salvaged. The buildings were demolished in June 2006.
“It’s been kind of a like a roller coaster ride with the ups and downs. We are excited by where we are now. All the obstacles are reasons to get us to where we need to be,” Haines said.
He said the congregation was excited and they are focusing on the future.
“We would like for people to see this is something positive,” he said.
Invited guests at Sunday’s groundbreaking ceremony were Executive Director Randy Hemann of Downtown Salisbury Inc., Mayor Susan Kluttz and City Manager David Treme.
“We are very grateful for their support,” Haines said.
He said the church is especially grateful for the cooperation with the city and Downtown Salisbury Inc., whose property is adjacent to the church. The organization is letting the church use the property as staging for construction.
Initial construction plans were also delayed because costs were higher than the church expected. Currently, construction costs are down because of the recession.
The church will still have to get more loans than they’d hoped.
“I’m really excited this is our church’s commitment to downtown. We are saying this is where we are staying,” Haines said.
The church has been in the community for 226 years and Haines said they want to continue to be “a part of this community.”
The project is slated to begin in October, possibly sooner. The entire construction is expected to take a year, Haines said.