Chapel Hill expands for growth


By Cindy Nolte, special contributor

An addition to Chapel Hill Fellowship UMC is being built to accommodate the current and anticipated growth of the congregation. (photo by Cindy Nolte)
Chapel Hill Fellowship in Wichita is growing! With a major capital expansion project, the United Methodist congregation is looking forward to welcoming hundreds of new members in the upcoming years.

The new building addition will be able to host nearly 900 people with a 200-seat balcony, which is more than the current seating for 325.

“Our lay and clergy leadership team determined that we need to expand our footprint in our community. We are already bursting at the seams and need more space to continue our mission,” said Rev. Jeff Gannon, senior pastor.

“It’s not just about seating capacity but about our sending capacity. We consider our church a mission station, in that what we do at Chapel Hill empowers us for mission in the community and the world.”

To determine the amount of space needed to meet goals and plans, the leadership team used the rule of thumb that when a congregation exceeds 80 to 85 percent of current worship space, it needs to start another service or expand.

The congregation was consistently exceeding the 85-percent mark, and the team discovered that every time they reached 700 in worship attendance, the congregation would “hit a ceiling” and bounce back down to around 580-590 and then creep back up again. This pattern was another reason for the expansion.

The budget for the expansion is $6.9 million and is designed to encompass more that just a larger sanctuary. The current nursery space will be renovated to serve more children, and the plans include the addition of classrooms for children, youth and adults. A new commercial kitchen will allow for additional fellowship gatherings, and a new, secure preschool area is part of the plans.

Chapel Hill enjoys a vital and active youth program, and the planned recreational center will offer an outdoor space dedicated to soccer, horseshoes, exercise, etc. In addition to being a draw for children and youth, the recreation team is planning a wide variety of outdoor activities for intergenerational gatherings.

The building is projected to be complete in the first quarter of 2014. The congregation is looking forward to holding Easter services in the new sanctuary.

Cindy Nolte is the communications director at Chapel Hill Fellowship UMC.

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