Christian Education Building

 

Fifty years ago, in 1957, the church celebrated its 50th anniversary.  The same year the church began its most ambitious building project, the construction of the Christian Education Building.

Ever since the church was founded, housing its growing Sunday school program had been a constant struggle.  Sunday school began in what is now the Mill Creek room, then expanded to the entire chapel building upon the construction of the sanctuary. In the 1920s the first Sunday school building was built, a two-story stone addition that now houses the church offices.  By the 1940s, this space was inadequate and classes had spilled out to surrounding houses that the church had purchased over the years. Adding to the need for additional space was the creation of the pre school program, and the growing numbers attending events sponsored by the Women’s Association and other fellowship groups.

The construction would expand the church complex westward along Montgomery Ave, requiring the demolition of a home known as the Cloud House.  As part of the plan a small driveway behind the chapel was widened and extended to Bleddyn Rd., creating the drive-through driveway that we use today.

The Christian Education Building was designed with input from the members of the church, and it represented a “wish-list” of the groups it was designed to serve: large, well-lit rooms with adjacent restrooms for preschoolers, fully-equipped Sunday school classrooms with sound-deadening plaster walls, a ladies parlor for small meetings, and a 500-seat fellowship hall unobstructed by pillars.  The building’s gothic architecture and grey stone façade was chosen to match the sanctuary.  A full two-story building, it was built into the natural slope of the land to appear as a one-story building from Montgomery Ave., so it would not visually detract from the sanctuary itself.

The cost of the building — over $500,000 – was paid for by donations of church members to a special building fund.  By the time the building opened, nearly $400,000 of this amount had already been received.

In December, 1957 the church celebrated its 50th Anniversary by dedicating the newly finished building.  A special anniversary program was held in the new Fellowship Hall.  The master of ceremonies was Bart Rawson, and the principal speaker was the first Sunday school superintendent, T. Edward Ross, who was then over 90 years old. He spoke of the early days of Sunday school and the goals of the founding members.  The Sunday school children took to the new stage and performed an historical pageant, produced by the Christian Education Director, Emily Aman.  In closing, the Pastor, Dr. William Faulds, presented an inspirational message entitled “Forward From Fifty.”

Throughout the following 50 years the Christian Education building allowed the church to expand, doubling the size of its pre school and increasing Sunday school attendance to a high of over 500 students per week in the 1960s.  It continues to today as an integral part of the church’s ministry, providing facilities not only for Sunday school, but for other programs such as Wednesday Plus, Vacation Bible School, and various group events.