Following many years of planning, patience and prayerful consideration, Russell United Methodist Church is on the brink of making its dream of a new ministry center a reality, according to Don Nelson, building committee chairman and lay leader at the church. One of the final hurdles was cleared July 25 with the signing of closing documents securing the remaining finances for the project.
The construction of the ministry center and renovations to the existing facilities will meet the church's immediate needs for new offices on the first floor, new kitchen facilities, banquet seating for 150, handicap restrooms, handicap accessibility to Wesley Hall, balcony reinforcement and repair and maintenance on the sanctuary
It also will open the door to new ministries that will assist the church in reaching others for Christ.
The project was officially kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday, June 30, almost 50 years since the last ceremony for the construction of the Wesley Hall Education Center. As a time reference, the facility was built in the same era as the Saint Louis Arch and a stainless steel plate produced from leftover materials from the arch was placed in the sidewalk and bears a bold "1964." This memento was presented to the Russell United Methodist Church by Amil Olson, now deceased member and former employee of the PDM Steel Company in Warren, who provided the steel to construct the arch in Saint Louis, MO.
The Russell UM Church currently hosts community groups at their facility including AA, Boys Scouts and Girls Scouts. The new facility will offer even more opportunity for the community.
The church also will hold a series of "Town Hall Meetings" to explore ideas for additional programs that will include: martial arts instruction, exercise classes, after-school programs, a new sacred library, computer access with Wi-Fi and community dinners.
During the ceremony, Nelson opened with The great commission: Matthew 28:18-20.
He shared that this has never been about a particular building or even a particular piece of land, but about the ministry and how the church could better serve the congregation and community of Russell.
He introduced the ceremony participants and thanked each for their part in helping the project move forward and shared the assistance through scripture that builder Ron Long brought to the committee and that since the decision to build the center was made, everything seemed to come together.
District Superintendent Tom Standburg offered the invocation and his hopes and prayer for this new "Family Life" ministry center.
Nelson further reflected on the challenges of the process and thanked everyone for their continued prayers and support. He the shared that he received a call from Heath (Hefty) Ferrie the 1964 Education Building Committee Chairman, who told him he had a "nickel plated" shovel from the last groundbreaking and asked him if he would like to use it. He said they had always intended to have the names of the building committee engraved on it, but never got around to doing it. Nelson told him he would not only use it, but the new committee would see that the names were finally engraved. He paid special homage to the 1964 committee that included Heath Ferrie, chairman; Lee Yeagle, building fund treasurer; John Nelson, building designer (and Don Nelson's father); Ralph Way; Donald Fehlman; Floyd Lindquist; and Ralph Swanson.
Pastor David Heckman offered selected passages from ESV 1 Peter 2:5 and ESV Ephesians 2:21-22.
The official groundbreaking took place and Ron Long offered the benediction. Following the ceremony, the congregation gathered for a celebratory picnic at Larimer Field.
Construction of the 5500 square-foot center will be begin within days, with a projected completion time of December 2013.