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Church almost ready to go

After days of heaving and hauling, the Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ has moved everything to their new building on 1001 Birch Street.

However, the church is not quite worship-ready just yet. The first service won't be held until June 29.

The congregation will meet in the Roberts Park Building for worship on June 22.

Pastor Mary Schmotzer said some work needs to be done before the congregation is ready to OK the transition.

Safety is the main concern, she said. The pews need to be anchored to the floor. They would also like other little things to be ready before the big day too, like having the sound system up and the organ plugged it.

Beyond that, the church is loaded with new features.

The kitchen, scheduled to be completed in the next four to six weeks, will have a dishwasher -- something new to the congregation -- as well as other commercial grade appliances.

Another novel feature of the church is the nursery so parents won't have to worry about crying children during the service.

There will be about 50 more seats in the church, plus extra space for 60-70 people in an overflow area. From there, worshippers can still hear and see the service, even if they aren't in pews.

Other parts of the building should look familiar to parishioners, like the organ, pews and sound system.

Building Committee Chairman Ken Graf said they took everything that wasn't tied down and even some that was from the old place.

One well known feature of the old church didn't make the move though, said Schmotzer. The stairs are staying behind.

"No one will miss the stairs," Schmotzer said laughing.

She's not going to miss stopping her phone calls when the trains pass either, she said.

The new building is slowly establishing its own memories.

Parishioners have been part of the building process which saved the congregation money and added pride to the building.

Schmotzer is thankful to Langer Construction, their builders, for that.

"I appreciated how much they have allowed congregation members to do work," she said.

Graf explained that a group did some sheet rocking. Once they started, he said, they just kept going.

With all the future plans they have for the building, their work won't be ending anytime soon.

Graf said they would like to install drop ceilings throughout the office area.

Schmotzer also said they eventually would like to lay wood and carpet floors, hang dividers in the Sunday School rooms and install acoustical panels in the sanctuary.

However, she said, these projects will have to wait until they have the funds to complete them.

Not many immediate plans have been made for the new building, said Schmotzer. No weddings are even on the schedule.

The first service will be special. Schmotzer hopes to have a procession into the church to begin the service.

Additionally, a dedication ceremony is planned for Sept. 7. During that time, Schmotzer said the conference minister and hopefully other area church leaders will be there. They will all walk through the church and bless it.

Even though some things are missing and the memories are sparse, Schmotzer said the church has a nice atmosphere.

"There is a new type of energy with the light, open feel," she said.

That was no accident. The shape of the sanctuary brings everyone closer to the front of the room and the open ceilings are designed to signify the parishioners' prayers going to God.

"It's beautiful," she said.

No matter what, though, Schmotzer said the mission of the church remains the same.

"As pastor, I hope it will meet the needs of the congregation and help fulfill the calling of Christ."