SIDNEY — A church that has its origins in the founding of Sidney has undergone yet another change in its long history.
The First Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of North Street and Miami Avenue, has been undergoing remodeling and renovating the past year. It will hold a grand opening this Sunday, Sept. 13, with a worship service at 10:30 a.m. An open house will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. It will include tours of the building, an information desk, refreshments and live music.
The Rev. Diana Circelli, pastor of the church, summarized the project in a “Your pastor speaks” column for the Sidney Daily News earlier this year: The space under the sanctuary balcony and extending into the parlor is becoming our fellowship area, with a “servery” (mini-kitchen) adjoining it next to the cry room. In the parlor, a dumbwaiter is being built for easy transport of dishes and equipment between the basement kitchen and the main floor. The pulpit/choir area is being shortened for handicap accessibility, but also enlarged to provide a space for additional uses, like musical and theatrical performances. Two new bathrooms are being created on the main floor next to a newly refurbished nursery. A new storage area for our Munch Bunch food ministry is being created from part of the library. And a new entrance and foyer off the parking lot is nearly complete, making first steps into the building more welcoming. Along with these renovations come new floors, trim, signage and paint.
Circelli took a news reporter on a tour of the church last week. Workers were still busy in the building as Circelli pointed out the many improvements. She was especially pleased with the new handicap-accessible entrance on the north side of the building. It will eliminate the hardship some people faced in using the regular service entrance. “We could not exclude anyone,” she said.
The remodeled sanctuary has a lower pulpit and easier-to-access areas for the choir and bell ringers. Circelli is looking forward to seeing the more open area being used in the coming months. “We have concerts booked through February,” she said.
All of the renovations have been designed to make the church a welcoming place and expand the type of activities that can take place there. “It’s all about faithfulness,” Circelli said.
In the past, fellowship dinners were held in the basement, where the kitchen is located. With the addition of a dumbwaiter, food can easily be moved upstairs to the new fellowship area. And the mini-kitchen near the parlor will provide a place for food storage, warming and serving.
The basement continues to be used for the church’s popular tutoring program. Circelli said there’s a waiting list to get into the program, in which volunteer tutors work with elementary students who have been recommended by teachers.
Another church program, Munch Bunch, aids the weekend nutritional needs of children by providing a take-home bag of nonperishable food on Fridays to elementary-school kids who are on the school lunch program. “It’s been very successful,” Circelli said. “It’s been growing and growing.”
Circelli said financial support for the renovations has been tremendous. Pledges have surpassed $400,000, she said.
The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.