For the first time in more than 25 years, Bethel Presbyterian Church has launched a major renovation effort.

For the first time in more than 25 years, Bethel Presbyterian Church has launched a major renovation effort.

Church officials will spend $1.7 million on a 5,600-square-foot addition to the rectory and fellowship hall, plus a new kitchen, classrooms, offices and several cosmetic improvements.

"I'm very excited about what's happening here," said the Rev. Jerry Kasberg, pastor of the church.

The im-provements should take about a year to complete and the church will not close during construction.

Kasberg said he was im-pressed by the congregation's commitment to the project.

When the proposal was announced two years ago, the 275 members raised half of the money in just a few months.

"This is a group of people who are significantly generous with their time, talents and resources," he said.

And the congregation has grown to 300 members, with an additional 65 people who worship there but are not members.

The church, 1735 Bethel Road, was part of a ministry established 120 years ago on Neil Avenue.

Bethel Presbyterian was built in 1968 and has expanded twice since then, the last time in 1986.

Kasberg, who has been the pastor for eight years, said the church makes a considerable effort to reach out to young people.

Bethel Presbyterian counts among its worshippers 40 students from Ohio State University, and is connected to such youth groups as Young Life and Campus Crusade for Christ.

"This is a church that's willing to do whatever it takes to reach the next generation with the gospel and help the community," he said.

Kasberg added that a sand volleyball court, which was removed because of an expansion of the parking lot, will return to the property.

After reaching a height of 340 members several years ago, the congregation is rebounding, Kasberg said.

"It will be interesting to see what's next," he said.

He said the church's message of faith, compassion and spiritual growth resonates with people.

"This church has a vision not only for those who are here, but those outside of the building," he said.