In 2014, the congregation at Grace Christian Reformed Church in Cobourg turned its worship in a new direction. For more than 50 years, worshipers worshiped in oak pews facing north. But after a building renovation, the congregation will sit on chairs facing south toward Lake Ontario.
This project has been sitting on the shelf for quite a while according to Dick Algera, who chairs the working group in charge of rejuvenation. “The sanctuary turnaround was conceived as part of the fellowship hall added to the back of the building finished in 2004,” he said. “At the time, many in the congregation argued that the money would be better spent on a youth leader, who we have since hired. But there was always a nagging sense that the building project was unfinished. There was a reluctance to do small repairs in the sanctuary because they would all be torn out with the turnaround project.”
Because of the volunteer labor provided by church members, the price tag is expected to be about half of the $300,000 estimate. “I’m impressed with the help and the speed of the progress we’ve made so far,” said Art Snoek, a long-term church member and the project manager.
Jannie Batelaan, serving as volunteer coordinator, agreed. “The response from the congregation has been overwhelming. People are coming up to me asking how they can help. The camaraderie, the laughter, the dust. . . . We’re enjoying the lunches and the prayer time together.”
Pastor Allan Kirkpatrick highlighted the decision to worship in the fellowship hall during the renovation. “It gives an excitement to the congregation to see the work in progress. It’s tradition and renewal together.”