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Project Glory is almost ready to open its doors

In this Following Up feature we tour the newly renovated First Christian Reformed Church with volunteer coordinator Clarence Wigboldus.

The renovation work at the First Christian Reformed Church on Water Street is almost complete and that is thanks in large part to the efforts of volunteers.

A number of contractors have worked on the project, but there have been thousands of hours of volunteer work too.

“We’ve had, right now, well over 5,000 hours of volunteer work here,” said volunteer coordinator Clarence Wigboldus.

The renovation work for Project Glory began in August of 2018 but the planning started well before that.

“We had our first building committee meeting back in 2011,” said Wigboldus. “It took quite some time just to get our site approval. There are so many aspects that come into play – environmental issues, grating, tree removal and replanting. It goes on and on and on.”

The $4.5 million project involved some major structural changes to the church and the surrounding landscape.

“The front of the sanctuary was over on that end and we’ve flipped it around so the stage is there now,” Wigboldus said. “We’ve cut part of the sanctuary off so, now we have a big entrance with a level entry.”

The main entrance was moved to the side of the church and the ground outside was raised.

“That is why we had to build a big retaining wall over there to give us the ability to have a level entrance,” said Wigboldus. “Now the main entrance is in the centre of the building. So we have the gym on that side and the sanctuary on this side. It made a lot of sense to do it this way.”

An interior window in the foyer looks down into the gym, one of the few features on the lower level that wasn’t significantly changed.

“It will remain the gymnasium,” said Wigboldus. “We have been using it as a workplace and as a storage place.”

The kitchen on the lower level was expanded and modernized.

“I would say it is twice the size,” said Wigboldus. “It is going to be a fully operational commercial kitchen. We are getting new fridges and upright freezers. There are warming ovens over here and a pantry over there. We have a tankless water heater to give us lots of hot water for our dishwasher. So, everything is modernized.”

Next to the kitchen in the old wing is a fireside lounge, restored washrooms and eight small rooms that will be used for ministry classrooms.

In the newly built south wing is a meeting room and a workshop for the church’s boys club and in the north wing is a large reception room.

“It is a very large room,” said Wigboldus. “It will be good for functions of up to 70 people. We have a foldable divider that can be installed in the future if we need to divide it. This room is good for wedding receptions and things like that.”

The lower level foyer is connected to stairs and a fully accessible elevator that will take you to the foyer on the main level.

“This is where the biggest transformation has taken place,” said Wigboldus.

The main level includes a library, a nursery, a prayer room, a counsel room and a café.

“There will be a number of tables and chairs and we hope to make it an open café through the week,” said Wigboldus. “It’s an area that will be open for the community.”

The expansive new entry and foyer provides lots of room for people to gather before and after services.

“We are building a welcome centre,” said Wigboldus. “It is semi-circular and the front will have vertical oak wood strips from the pews on it.”

Wood form the original oak pews is being re-purposed for a number of other features around the stage and windows as well.

The wiring and lighting systems have been upgraded to make the building more energy efficient and the heating and ventilation system has been customized and upgraded as well.

The congregation has been holding Sunday services at John McCrae Public School since construction began more than a years ago and they are looking forward to meeting back in the church.

“We plan to have our first service here on Sunday Oct. 27 and our dedication service on Nov. 10,” said Wigboldus.

A public open house is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“That is when we will be inviting all the guests that we want to come,” he said. “Hopefully, the mayor and our MPs, former pastors, former members. The whole community is welcome.

"We are really working on making this facility available to the community.”