The Highlands United Methodist Church held an open house July 15 to show parishioners and the public the completed expansion to the building at 315 Main Street, Highlands, N.C. The addition includes a Faith and Fellowship Center, a spacious lobby, a kitchen and servicing area, and the relocation of the Food Pantry of Highlands to the church’s lower floor.
The first service in the new F&FC was held Oct. 17, 2017, but Senior Pastor Randy Lucas wanted hold the open house in July so their seasonable parishioners are in town and could see the finished project.
With the additional space at the church, Lucas said he and other staff are consistently thinking of new ways the space could be utilized to serve the community. The church has already hosted a variety of events in the new facilities including an active shooter training lecture by the Highlands Police Department, the Mountain Garden Club hosted a speaker, vacation bible school and wedding receptions. Several more events are on the church’s website.
“We want to encourage groups reaching out to us,” said Lucas. “A church is for the community, and this enables us to serve the community in more ways.”
Patti Moschouris is the lay leader and a parishioner at the church. She said space was very limited before the expansion, especially in the former worship space located on the first floor.
“During our 9:09 a.m. service we were just exploding out of the Fellowship Hall,” said Moschouris. “This addition is a great facility.”
The total cost of the expansion is approximately $3.8 million and includes site preparation, paving, equipment, furniture, fixtures, etc. Youth Children’s Director Christine Murphy said the construction, which began in December, 2015, did not interfere with any of the day-to-day operations.
“It’s a great space and it’s a great move for our 9:09 a.m. bluegrass service,” said Murphy.
Elizabeth Gordon is a parishioner and also assists the church with audio/visual technology, said she couldn’t be happier with the new addition.
“I love it,” said Gordon. “It’s more space and more opportunities for the church to serve the town.”
Part-time Highlands resident Lynn Kleifgen said she is very impressed with how active the Methodist Church is in the community.
“I was so impressed with this church that we made it our home church,” she said. “I love how they interact with the community. It’s one of the most active churches in the community that I’ve ever belonged to.”
Located on the lower floor is the new space for the Food Pantry of Highlands. The food pantry’s original location was 600 square feet. The new facility is 3,500 square feet, said food pantry Director Marty Rosenfield.
“It’s economically better because I can buy in bulk when the price is right,” said Rosenfield. “It allows me to buy more because in the past we had nowhere to put it.”
Another added bonus to the pantry is they now have more refrigerator and freezer space.