A church building that has been a fixture in New Albany for decades is being updated.
Leaders of New Albany United Methodist Church, 20 Third St., are adding 10,000 square feet and remodeling about 10,000 square feet, said Frank Luchsinger, who has served as pastor for 10 years.
The refresh is just the latest modification for the church, which was built in the early 1970s, Luchsinger said. When an addition was made to the building in the late 1990s, church leaders already had envisioned some version of the 2020 addition and renovation, he said.
"What we're really doing is completing the dream," he said.
But the church's history in New Albany, which was founded in 1837, predates the current building by more than a century, Luchsinger said.
In its infancy, the church's parishioners held services for a number of years in people's homes, he said.
The congregation's original church was built in 1848 on Third and Main streets, right across the street from the current location, Luchsinger said. The white frame building was built using wood from a parishioner's land, and Smith Mill was employed to create the lumber, he said.
Many historic church members' names are represented in New Albany geographical locations, such as Fodor Road, Walton Parkway, Swickard Woods and Doran Drive, Luchsinger said.
Several founders of New Albany also were founders of the church, said New Albany resident Everett Gallagher, a 27-year church member. The original church building served not only as a place for worship but also as a community gathering space, he said.
"Our church has been part of the New Albany community fabric pretty much since day one of New Albany," Gallagher said.
After the original building became too challenging to maintain, the current one was built in the early 1970s, Luchsinger said.
The church now has a membership of 550 people, Luchsinger said. Members primarily come from New Albany, although people travel from as far as Grove City, Marion and Sunbury, he said.
"We have some far reach," he said.
In addition to its services and programming, the church also offers a Christian preschool, he said.
The addition will be a two-floor building that will connect to the church, Luchsinger said.
The first floor will include a youth facility, and the second floor will have a formal worship sanctuary and a cafe built to mimic Northstar Cafe, he said. The new worship space will be for traditional services and life-cycle services, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals, he said.
The remodeled space will include areas for children's worship and modern worship services, he said.
The church's traditional worship services feature a choir, and the modern worship services have a band playing contemporary worship music, he said.
Gallagher said he is looking forward to the addition and renovation as a way for the church to provide a 21st-century facility for worship and community gathering.
"Our church looks forward to continuing to be an active part of the community's fabric," he said.