Concord UMC 'plows new ground' for $6.5 million building addition

Concord UMC 'plows new ground' for $6.5 million building addition

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Concord United Methodist Church celebrated a building addition on April 11, using a reminder of the church’s heritage to mark the beginning of construction in its west Knoxville community.

As numerous church members participated in the “service for the breaking of ground” for the 28,000-square-foot addition, more than two dozen church members turned the earth by pulling a 90-year-old plow.

Jack Thompson, 92 years old and a Concord member for 83 years, lent his plow for the third Concord groundbreaking in 30 years.  Thompson is a great-grandson of Joe Morton, who helped organize the church 145 years ago.

The Rev. Brent Hall, senior pastor, said the $6.5 million addition will include a contemporary worship center, classrooms for youth and adults, kitchen facilities, and additional parking. Construction is expected to be completed in 2011.

Current space also will become available for alternative uses, Hall said, including expansion of the CADES (Concord Adult Day Enrichment Services) ministry for older adults.

Oak Ridge District Superintendent Adam McKee joined Hall, Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill, and Associate Pastor Larry Trotter in speaking at the outdoor service. The adult and children's choirs provided music.

“We hold two traditional and two contemporary services each Sunday,” Trotter said. “Thanks to our members’ involvement in so many ministries, our building is in use seven days a week -- often with overlapping demands -- so the new space will be put to good use as soon as it’s available.”

Since the most recent expansion in 1997, Concord’s average worship attendance has grown from 611 to 804. The growth coincided with the launch of “Sunday Morning Light” contemporary worship services, as well as expanded youth and community outreach ministries.

“With more than 500 seats for contemporary worship, there’s the potential for average worship attendance to grow to 1,200,” Hall said.

The church was founded in 1865, the year the Civil War ended. Members met in homes for decades, later leasing space for worship. The first building was established in 1920. Having outgrown the original building, the congregation moved in 1961 to the current site in Farragut’s Thornton Heights neighborhood.

As membership increased during the past decade, Concord decided against relocating, instead buying a dozen nearby homes. Rather than destroy the houses, the church moved them to provide affordable housing for others.

The expansion will leave many mature trees and maximize green space, church leaders said. Other “green design” considerations include landscaping with native plants; using a storm water management system and other erosion control measures; and installing energy-efficient windows, plumbing fixtures, heating/cooling system, and a recycling center.

Concord’s “Present for the Future” capital stewardship campaign helped raise funds so land for the building and additional parking areas could be purchased without debt. The church building fund has a current balance of $751,800 and more than $1 million in pledges for the building addition.

David Lauver is a member at Concord UMC, Oak Ridge District.