New Evangelical Church Building Expands Ministry, Outreach
The church is just west of Archbold High School.
The first service included a message from Calvin Rychener, an Archbold native and former member of the congregation who has served as senior pastor at Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, Ill., for the past 18 years.
The Northwoods Church is a member of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, the conference to which Archbold Evangelical Church also belongs.
Rychener challenged those in attendance to see how God could use the new facility to change lives, and to be ready to believe God and follow Him as He leads them in new and exciting ways.
The new building is a major move for the 138-year old congregation.
It had been located at 300 Park Street for the past 105 years, moving there from a previous location in rural Archbold.
The new facility was designed to "expand the opportunity for ministry and outreach to the community and beyond," church officials said.
The congregation chose the new location for several reasons. They wanted a place that was easily accessible, and that had room for future expansion.
Andy Brodbeck, chairman of the church elder board, said, "We want the building to be a gift to our community, a place they can feel comfortable coming to and using whether they are part of our congregation or not."
The building was designed to be friendly to all age groups, but with a special emphasis on children's ministry.
It features a special children's area called "Connection Cove" that includes a hallway decorated like a street in a Bible-era marketplace.
The building also includes an indoor playground that is three stories tall. It will be available for all area families to visit during church business hours, or to reserve for special celebrations such as birthday parties.
For adults, the building includes a coffee area and a library, although the library may not be open for another week or two when the final parts of the moving process are finished.
The new facility also has a large multi-ministry area that has a junior high-size athletic activity space. It can also seat up to 600 people at banquets or up to 1000 at concerts or larger assemblies.
In addition to the multi-ministry area, the church has a large worship center that can seat over 600.
It includes the latest video, sound and lighting technology so the service can also be broadcast to other screens in the building if needed.
Another reason the congregation chose to build a new facility, rather than add on or remodel their previous building, was so that they could have a building all on one level.
"Our old building was on three levels, and none of those was actually on ground level," said Lynn Aschliman, church chairman.
That design made it difficult for anyone with limited mobility to take part in activities held at the church.
The congregation has a large group of older adults, and also has several individuals with physical disabilities that attend regularly.
"We wanted a building that would allow easy access to everyone, both those in our congregation and those who might attend weddings, funerals, and other events at the church," Aschliman said.
Church officials said the final cost of the new facility has not been determined, and they hesitated to give a cost estimate.
"We don't really want people to focus on the cost of the building, but on its purpose," Brodbeck said.
"The building is simply a place our congregation wanted to provide so we can gather and worship, and also as a gift to the community, so that people can have a place they feel welcome to come."
Brodbeck described the building as a "third place" for people to come. He explained that he meant it could be a place to spend time outside of their homes or workplaces.
As for the former church properties, the congregation is offering them for sale. The church owns the two-story building and parking area that totals just over two acres.
The church also owns a home that served as the parsonage for many years, along with a bus/ storage building and several vacant lots adjacent to its other properties on Park Street.
Although they have officially moved into the new church, there are still several things to be finished in and around the facility.
Church leaders say that this is only the first phase of their plans for the facility.
In the future, they hope to expand the property even more, to make it even more available as a place where the church can fulfill its mission of "Connecting People with God and with His family."