Blending the Buildings
In March of 1961, the St. Paul’s building was moved from Ackerville to the current site. The next several weeks were busy with plans on how to actually merge the two buildings. Meeting minutes reflect numerous meetings with the architect, Sam Pertner. Each time the architect took input from a prior meeting and brought back additional plans. A ten foot addition would be needed to blend the two buildings together. Although funds were not available to renovate the interiors, the design was based on having a corner altar section with a fan shape arrangement of the pews in the future.
On April 19th, the merged congregations voted on naming the church Faith United Church of Christ. At this meeting members had the opportunity to look at the plans and discuss the project with Mr. Pertner. Following this review time, a ballot vote was asked for on a motion by Ed Melius and seconded by Frank Schmidt to adopt the basement plan and outside structure as presented. The motion passed with 44 yes, one no, and one blank ballot cast.
In early May, the joint consistory and building committee voted to put excavating for the basement, mason work, and carpentry work out for bids. Lee Funk did the excavating, Al Stauss the masonry work, and John Achenriener the carpentry work.
During the summer of 1961, Vacation Bible School was held the first week of June before foundation work was started. In fact, one or two classes used the St. Paul’s building for their classroom space. A temporary wooden stairs was used to get into the building which was sitting on pilings.
On a motion by Ray Hoefert and seconded by Philip Becker (Allen’s father) excavating would begin on June 12, 1961. Ray & Philip also made a motion to have the 3 oldest members of the congregation break the first ground. During the June 11th Sunday morning service, John Kurtz, (grandfather of Merrilee, Elaine, & Richard) Fred Endres Sr., (grandfather of Darlene & Karen) and Christ Melius (father of Marian, grandfather of Marilyn, Rita, Paul, Carol, Laurie, Jim, Ron, Brian, Dennis) each turned a shovel of ground as part of the ground breaking ceremony.
Members continued to help whenever possible. Some cleaned and hauled the brick from the St. Paul’s site. As many brick as possible were reused on the building. A few of the men and their children hauled out the old foundation wall of St. John’s church with wheelbarrows. It is said the children would load up the wheelbarrow with the rubble, and the men would pull it out of the hole while the children pushed from behind.
Decisions needed to be made regarding the windows. Several options were considered, but in the end, the clear glass windows on the north side of the St. John’s building would remain. However, an additional window would be placed in the 10 foot transition area along the west wall. This would also be a clear glass window. A stained glass window complete with frame was donated by the St. John’s Kohlsville congregation. This is the window in the corner entry. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided to use aqua colored glass block for the window in the stairwell going to the basement.
The entrance to the sanctuary was through double doors placed at an angle. The doors each had clear glass inserts in the shape of a cross. Above the door was a panel with the words, ‘Peace Be With You’ lettered in wood. The cost of the panel was $234.
The pews from St. Paul’s church were moved forward, filling in the ten foot transition space which created Sunday School classroom space in front of the balcony area. The St. John’s altar, pulpit, and lectern remained in place and served as the front of the now “L-shaped” church.
Throughout the year, many decisions continued to be made regarding paint color, flooring, bathroom & kitchen cabinetry and fixtures, chairs, and tables.
Sunday services continued each week even if it meant sitting next to a support column. When the association minister met with the joint consistory members at the start of the project, he stated the decision to merge may cause a loss in membership. Throughout the entire merger project, every member of St. Paul’s & St. John’s remained as a member of the newly formed Faith United Church of Christ.