Waters Edge UMC converts old horse barn into new space for worship
By Jessica Brodie
LADY’S ISLAND—One of the newer United Methodist churches in the state now has its very own space for worship—a converted horse barn on 10 acres of land that once housed wayward boys.
Waters Edge United Methodist Church, a mission congregation started in 2005 to serve the blended community of retirees, military families and nonmilitary locals in the Beaufort area, held its first service in their new church on Palm Sunday. They formally consecrated the building April 24 in a church-wide Celebration Sunday.
The building had been an old horse barn that was later remodeled into a residence and then a boys’ home. But while the building was in disrepair, it was structurally sound and surprisingly well-built, said their pastor, the Rev. Lane Glaze, who helped lead them through the building process. They added another 1,000 square feet onto the existing structure and fully remodeled the upstairs and downstairs. Today, the roughly 7,400-square foot creation is just perfect for them, Glaze said.
“This is a very unpretentious church, a come-as-you-are, be-who-you-are church, and the building has a very earthy vibe to it that fits the congregation,” Glaze said. “Plus, the whole Christian movement started in a stable, so it’s a neat tie-in.”
‘Something to celebrate’
Waters Edge was founded in 2005 after the South Carolina Conference purchased a 10-acre tract of land on Lady’s Island. In January 2007, the church launched with the Rev. Mel Arant as pastor, with services held at a movie theater early on. Later, they began to rent space in the gym of Beaufort Academy. But that was not ideal, Glaze said; it cost them nearly $20,000 in rent each year, plus they had to do a full set-up and tear down every Sunday for worship.
“You can imagine how fatigued this crowd was after nine years,” Glaze said.
Glaze was appointed there in 2013, and shortly after he arrived, the church began a needs assessment process to discern a path for the future. God led them to analyzing the future prospects of the building, and they soon realized they wanted their own space.
They learned it would cost them far less to renovate and add onto the building than to build from scratch, and a team of church members quickly stepped up to help. Civil engineer Phil Waters created plans for the building, Sheena Jenkins served as interior designer and George Clark was project manager. They started a capital campaign in early 2015 and in August 2015 selected TD Commercial Builders as the general contractor. Construction began soon after.
“It’s been my privilege to join them in the midst of this journey they’ve been on,” Glaze said, noting the new space is something the conference needs to celebrate.
Waters Edge is still a commissioned church, not yet a chartered church, even though they have begun paying toward apportionments, and this new step for them signifies initial steps toward being a long-term, viable congregation, Glaze said.
“We’ll be doing a lot of exploration over next six to 12 months about what our future looks like, and I’m excited to see where the Spirit leads us,” Glaze said.
From a mustard seed to a dream to true
As project manager, Clark says he hasn’t yet found relief in seeing the project come to fruition, because he’s still knee-deep in tying up final loose ends.
But, he said, “Every time I walk in the space and see what we have accomplished, it’s awe-inspiring.”
Clark said the project was a constant evolution, from the initial “mustard seed” idea, when they brainstormed about what would happen if they removed the stairs, into big dreams about a 27-foot-high, 50x20-foot add-on.
“We went from taking out the stairs to create more space, to bumping it out another 20 something feet, to giving it a gabled roof to give it the height you need for a church environment, and then it was just a matter of working through all the details,” said Clark, who has been active in the church since it launched.
The building was “a total redo” downstairs, Clark said. Because it had been converted into a boys’ home, the former structure consisted of a bunch of bedrooms and bathrooms, plus two kitchens, some office space, a tiny lobby and a dining hall.
Now, a sanctuary/fellowship hall, large lobby and handicap-accessible bathrooms comprise the downstairs, with children’s classrooms and a nursery upstairs, an upstairs viewing area with speakers, a library area and a small kitchen. All of it is situated on an expanse of wooded land accentuated by huge live oak trees out front.
“It’s just a beautiful setting,” Clark said. “Overall, it all worked out real well in seeing what we had and what we were trying to accomplish, and there were no major headaches.”
Jenkins not only did interior design but also the exterior façade for the new building, and she said the church worked to create a beautiful space that would be functional for the congregation and help them grow into their bright future. One of the church founders, Jenkins said the church has made a big impact on her family; her son Shaeffer, now 21, was the first person to be baptized when the church formed nine years ago. The time was ripe for a permanent building.
“The building needed expansion and a facelift in the same token, and a group of us all worked as a team and really tried to play up the assets of the building,” Jenkins said. “It took a lot of hands, a lot of work and a lot of backs to make it come true.”
She fused coordinated lighting, attractive paint colors, interior fixtures and space planning to make sure there was good egress into the building, plus a place to gather afterward. The final result is “so wonderful,” she said.
“We look forward to the future and what God has in store for us,” Jenkins said. “It truly reflects our church saying: God is good all the time.”
For more about Waters Edge: http://weumc.net.