Hillsboro church to celebrate completion of building renewal

Sunday will be a time of remembrance and celebration for First Mennonite Church in Hillsboro.

The congregation of about 120 will gather Sunday to commemorate completion of the church?s three-year $90,000 capital campaign of ?spruce?n up the little brown church,? located at Ash and Grand.

?We always recognize that it?s stewardship of a building,? said Pastor Susan Jantzen. ?But it?s also reclaiming ourselves by God as God?s people and hopes that this is a place that God dwells and where people can meet God.?

The celebration will start with a joint adult class at 9:30 a.m. Worship begins at 10:35 a.m. and will include communion. A choir called together for this service will sing.

?We will celebrate in the midst of being God?s people,? Jantzen said about the service.

A carry-in lunch will follow the worship service. Then the congregation will gather for a brief service to bury a capsule and plant a tree.

Jantzen will complete a four-week series of messages on Exodus, with Sunday?s theme focusing on God gathering people to himself in Exodus 19.

?I will look at the calling that happens at Mt. Sinai, the teaching that happens at Mt. Sinai, the agreement on the part other people so the covenant that happens on Mt. Sinai, which will tie to our communion,? she said. ?But it is all under a premise of a God who brought us out this for himself.

“So included in the teaching are specific guidelines for a place where God can dwell with us, so a building is part of the hope from God that we will have a place to remember–a place to acknowledge that God dwells with us.?

Major ?spruce?n up? areas included putting in a basketball court and children?s playground area and enhancing the courtyard on the south side of the church.

After living 27 years away from Hillsboro, Kent Funk returned to the area about that time, and he became involved in the momentum that was beginning to build.

?At that phase, we decided that we?ve got to pull together some capital if we?re going to do this,? Funk said. ?We need to grab ahold of it and start to bring together a much more comprehensive (plan).?

So the decision was made to organize a capital campaign to raise funding needed for replacing windows and doors, landscaping, upgrading heating and air conditioning, implementing an infrastructure for technology, decorating the interior and installing floor coverings, redoing a room upstairs for the youth and replacing a majority of the roofs covering the structure.

?The only roof that is not new now is over the fellowship hall,? Funk said. ?The rest of the roofs have basically been redone.?

Funk estimated 50 to 70 individuals volunteered and were part of the work days to complete the projects.

?The vast majority (of the work) was done ourselves because that really was a part of building community,? he said. ?I think we probably had an enrichment of our congregational life.

?We just literally lived, worked and worshipped together.?

The final phase was the interior aspects.

?This winter we re-carpeted and gave a facelift to the greeting area ahead of the sanctuary,? Funk said, adding that work also was done on the nursery area and the fellowship hall.

?We reported to the congregation in the first week of May that we had met our goal, and all of the projects we had planned were fully funded.?

About $92,000 was collected, Funk said, and the formal campaign report to the congregation was delayed until fall.

?It wasn?t about the task at hand of executing a series of projects,? he said. ?It had real meaning beyond that.

Doug Bartel, whose family roots go back to the beginnings of the church in the 1880s, resonates with Funk.

?Our congregation was born out of a church plant?that has invited a rich diversity of backgrounds to come together as a church family,? said Bartel, who serves as chair of the missions committee at First Mennonite. ?Our congregation reflects that diversity and would like to continue to be that presence serving in the community.?

Reflecting about the past three years, Bartel said, ?The capital campaign has allowed us to freshen up some tired and needed features on the exterior and interior (of the building) to be more welcoming to the church family as well as the community.

?It has truly been a labor of love of groups together to build, plan, give, eat, paint and plant, exalting in the strengthening of relationships in and out of the church.

?By strengthening these relationships, refreshing the facility, it gives renewed energy to serve and be of service to the community.?

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