First United Methodist completes $4.8 million expansion of children's area
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, December 01, 2012
12/01/12 at 6:12 AM
First United Methodist Church downtown will celebrate the completion of its $4.8 million "Far-Sighted" construction project Sunday with a variety of events.
The project included a major renovation and expansion of the youth and children's areas of the church, one of Tulsa's largest congregations.
The project added a 10,000-square-foot wing to the children's area, with open design, brightly colored decor, floor-to-ceiling windows in the spacious entryway and a children's church worship hall with a puppet theater.
"It's going to say, 'This is where the children belong,' " said the Rev. Wade Paschal, senior pastor, as he led a tour of the facility this week.
The new children's area also has controlled entrances for security, a necessity in today's society, he said.
Architect Stan Espinosa with the Tulsa Design Group said the biggest challenge of the project was working with the existing structure of the original 1920s gothic-style church and the newer, modern design of the children's wing, which was added to the church in the early 1980s.
One priority, he said, was to blend the 1920s church with the 1980s wing. In part, that was accomplished by matching the stone exterior of the addition to the original stone.
Paschal said the church began five years ago to address the problem of outdated youth and children's areas.
Construction began in October 2011 and is nearly complete.
Another part of the project was the renovation of the youth area to make it more hospitable and inviting to young people.
The youth area is part of the church's Youth and Family Center, which was built in the mid-1990s across Main Street from the original church. It is joined to the church by a walkway over the street. In addition to the youth area, it contains a double gymnasium, indoor running track and weight rooms.
Instead of classrooms along traditional hallways, the renovation has created open spaces that young people will find appealing and interesting, Paschal said.
Exterior walls were torn down and rebuilt to create the open design with tall windows, and a section of a second-story floor was removed to create an open, two-story space.
The renovation creates a variety of spaces for small-group meetings and informal interaction, and larger worship centers for middle school and high school students.
A third part of the renovation project was the establishment of the "Foolish Things Coffee Co.," a privately run business located within the off-campus college ministry on property owned by the church at 10th and Main streets.
Completion of the Far-Sighted renovation brings the church's total square footage to about 250,000, Paschal said.
The facility is used seven days a week for a variety of programs, including children's and youth basketball programs, Sk8te Church for skateboarders, various downtown service clubs and a preschool.
Some 1,500 people a week use the Youth and Family Center, including about 500 downtown workers who work out there, many of them during the lunch hour.
First United Methodist leaders made a commitment years ago to stay downtown, Paschal said. The church has grown to become one of the state's largest and most influential United Methodist churches.
Several other downtown churches that have made the same commitment have recently completed major renovations, including First Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church and Trinity Episcopal Church.
Sunday tours of renovation
First United Methodist Church
1115 S. Boulder Ave.
9:30 a.m.: Children's Christmas musical, sanctuary.
Noon-2 p.m.: Choirs and bands from local schools perform in remodeled youth wing, college building and children's building.
Food stations: Visit local vendors along tour routes.
Original Print Headline: Renovation complete
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Martin Almader paints Wednesday as work continues on a "Far-Sighted" remodel and rebuilding project at First United Methodist Church. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World