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Mercredi, 28 août 2013

Sawyerville Baptist Church building is rejuvenated

 Imprimer   Envoyer 

by Rachel Garber

The Sawyerville Baptist Church building is radiant. A major makeover that took close to a year has just ended.

Pastor Michel Houle and church members welcomed a plentiful flow of visitors at the Sawyerville Baptist Church last July 6 to tour the building. The next day, about 80 people attended the bilingual dedication services.

Here's what's new: The building was moved back from the street. An enlarged front entrance accommodates a new church office, a handicapped-accessible bathroom, a seating area and storage spaces.

A wide and fire-retardant stairway leads downstairs. In the new full basement, steel beams replace the erstwhile support posts, creating a spacious hall for receptions and other events. Beside the hall are a kitchen, a chair-storage room, bathrooms, a furnace room, and even a shower.

In the sanctuary, the pulpit platform was lowered a step. Behind the pulpit area, an enlarged fire-retardant stairwell leads to a classroom on the second floor.

Here's some of what's refurbished and kept from the past: The sanctuary itself. Pine railings, moved inside. The distinctive round window above the front entrance. The chimney. The steeple and the sleek lines of the roof with its crenellated rakes.

The renovations were mainly motivated by safety and access concerns, said Pastor Houle, and to have a functional meeting space in the basement. Roland Houle (no relation) of Sherbrooke was the architect.

"The ideas for the renovations were a combined effort," said church elder Austin Bailey. "And hundreds of volunteer hours were contributed. There were probably some 15 to 20 volunteers, all told."

"We're very pleased with the results," said Pastor Houle. "We hope to put a chairlift in for handicapped access to the basement. And we hope to be at the service of the community for funerals and weddings and such."

"We'd rather not mention the cost because there were some private donors," he said. But he noted that most of the funding came from selling the parsonage in Sawyerville and the Baptist church in Bury.

About three years ago, the French-speaking Bury congregation began meeting in the Sawyerville church. Altogether, about 65 people attend the services in French at 9 a.m. and in English at 11 a.m.

The Sawyerville Baptist Church was built in 1889 at a cost of $2,465. It was previously renovated in the 1960s. Last year, the congregation celebrated its 190th anniversary.

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