The First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Bristol will celebrate a $1.6 million accessibility and safety renovation project Sunday, Sept. 10 with an intergenerational worship service at 10 a.m., followed by a ribbon cutting and open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The church’s Building Committee Chair Doug Humerick sees the renovation as a metaphor for the United Church of Christ, said a press release from the church. The UCC stresses being open to all people. “This project provides open access via elevator to our dining room, classrooms, sanctuary, chapel, sanctuary balcony and bell choir loft, and basement. A tiny, ancient staircase is gone and replaced with an eight foot wide staircase. We are open to all to spread Christ’s word to all, regardless of anyone’s physical mobility.”
Seven years in the making, the project faced many challenges and obstacles, which the congregation overcame with faith and commitment.
Donna Katasaounis, a 38-year church member, said the capital campaign helped her think about her personal finances in a different way, the press release reported. She realized she could be more financially generous than she thought—a realization she thinks others also made.
“The congregational vote, the generous contributions, and the prayers showed that this safety and accessibility renovation was important to and driven by the church community,” said the minister, Rev. Kristen Kleiman, the news release said. “We could not have gotten 135+ pledges and 80+ volunteers for the capital campaign without a high level of church member involvement, faith, and spirit.”
The renovations have made the building and grounds much more accessible for community groups like Al-Anon, Weight Watchers, Prudence Crandall, Family Promise, Debtor’s Anonymous, and others who use the building, said the release. Parents and children of the on-site Century Nursery School have a safer, wider, and more weather-protected entrance to and from the preschool classrooms and playground. The new large bathrooms include baby changing stations and close access to the sanctuary, parking lot, and classrooms. People of all physical abilities have complete access via elevator to all six levels of the combined church and parish house buildings.
“We’ve had to trust,” Kleiman said, the release reported. “Trust that we could raise the funds, trust that the nursery school would have access to their classrooms on time, trust about what the final product would look like. And how it came together was even better than we imagined. All this is God.”
On Sunday, Sept. 10, all are invited to an intergenerational worship service at 10 a.m. and the ribbon cutting and open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The First Congregational Church invites the community to come celebrate this newly renovated space.