The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


March 14, 2014

Renewing history

Summitville Methodist congregation restores 149-year-old sanctuary

ANDERSON — On Sundays, the pews at Summitville United Methodist Church are filled with people ready to worship. But Monday through Friday, the pews are covered in plastic, and members of the congregation are ready to work.

Volunteers filter in and out each day to paint and make repairs, thanks to a group of women leading an effort to restore its sanctuary.

“This church is a part of me, a big part of me,” said Peggy Bailey, one of the women spearheading the restoration. “Ministers come and go, but I’m still here.”

So she’s trying to better that part of herself. After making repairs to the pastor’s study, a group from the congregation decided to go to the church’s administrative council to redo the sanctuary.

Now various volunteers – mostly women – have helped paint, add wainscoting and make various repairs.

They’ve picked out new fabric for the pew cushions and carpet, which will likely be installed within the next week. They’re also making special pillows for churchgoers who have back problems and are uncomfortable in the wooden pews.

Pastor Josh Johnson said he’s amazed by the group’s energy.

Johnson, who became the church’s pastor in December, gives them all the credit for repairing the church.

“When I first came in, when I first saw the sanctuary,” he said, “it just looked like the equivalent of an overgrown yard that just needed some love.”

Monday through Friday, the group covers the pews in plastic and works 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Sundays and Wednesdays, the plastic comes off for services and youth activities.

Bailey said she’s attended the church for more than 50 years, but that’s only a fraction of the institution’s history.

Originally called the Walnut Street Methodist Episcopal Church, the old brick house of worship at 600 E. Walnut St., has been around since the 1865. With the exception of adding an annex in the 1950s, there haven’t been any notable updates to the church.

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