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Roberts UCC project coming along

The construction of the new Roberts United Church of Christ is right on schedule, according to Pastor Mary Schmotzer.

Construction of the new church began in mid-October and "has been a part of Roberts UCC's vision for the last 20 years," said Schmotzer.

One of the prime reasons the church has sought to build a new facility, besides climbing membership over the years, is because the parking capacity around the church's present location is slim.

"We had a funeral recently," Schmotzer said, "and I think there would have been more people if we had more parking."

The new church will have a large parking lot adjacent to the building with 105 spaces to accommodate several types of events. The old building had only on-street parking.

Aside from parking and space constraints, there is another aspect that the congregation will benefit from once the new building is complete.

"One thing we're looking forward to is not having to climb stairs," Schmotzer said.

The new building will have entry doors on the same level as the parking lot, providing easier access for those with mobility problems.

The new church will also have an education wing as well as a large fellowship area that will hold the church's community suppers, which Schmotzer says "are a really big deal," garnering lots of participation from the community. The food pantry will also move to the new building.

The new sanctuary will have seating for 200, with overflow seating at around 260, which is "quite a fair increase" for the church, according to Schmotzer.

The old building sat about 160 parishioners, with a capacity of around 200 people, "with people standing elbow to elbow." The new facility will be more open and provide more comfortable seating.

As soon as the windows are installed in the new building, construction crews from Langer Construction, the firm in charge of the project, will begin heating the building and then start to pour the floor. After that, the congregation of 218 members will begin working on the inside themselves.

According to Ken Graf, chairman of the building committee, officials from Langer Construction said they hoped the building would be ready to open by May 16.

"We're a little ahead of schedule," Graf said.

In order to keep costs on the project lower, members of Roberts UCC will invest some "sweat equity" to help bring the project to a conclusion.

Finishing work inside the church will need to be completed, including cabinet work, painting and sheetrocking. Schmotzer estimates that after all of the detail work inside is finished, the new church should be completed by mid-summer.

Schmotzer is pleased with the progress of the new building and with the diligence of the congregation.

"The process has been a strong testament of faith and hope for our future," Schmotzer said.