MATTOON – Broadway Christian Church recently completed a 15,000-square-foot addition containing more classroom space for its children’s programs on Sunday mornings and its Sunshine Preschool during the week.
The addition also includes a larger lobby where parishioners can fellowship after church services and attend small group meetings in the evenings. The lobby features a new coffee shop and variety of comfortable chairs.
Lead Minister Ian Stamps said one reason why the church added on to its more than 20,000-square-foot facility, 1205 S. Ninth St., is that the children’s programs have grown exponentially over the years and had taken over a majority of the classroom space in this building.
Another reason was that the old lobby had been too small for parishioners and visitors to comfortably gather after church services, Stamps said. The old lobby had often been filled with people standing “shoulder to shoulder,” he said.
“In general, the church was cramped on a Sunday morning,” Stamps said. “It just felt really packed.”
Stamps said the additional classroom space is used on Sunday mornings by the children’s programs for ages early childhood through elementary school and during the week by the church’s Sunshine Preschool for 3- and 4-year-old students.
Sunshine Preschool Coordinator Jenny Camfield said she, her staff and students were excited to move into the new preschool wing in time for the resumption of classes in early September.
“We love it. It’s very nice,” Camfield said of the preschool wing.
The preschool classrooms are now centralized together instead of being spread out in the building, Camfield said. The new preschool wing has four classrooms, with their own restrooms, arranged around a central room where the students can gather together for special presentations.
Camfield said Sunshine Preschool has filled three of the classrooms and the fourth one is available for future use. She said enrollment has climbed to 57 students and is still growing.
The preschool wing is used by children in this age group on Sunday mornings. Classroom space for children in grades kindergarten through third is located nearby in the addition. This space includes a loft for the older children to gather and play games, such as air hockey.
Regarding the lobby, Stamps said parishioners and visitors now have room the spread out in this new space and talk while sitting in comfortable chairs. He said this helps create more opportunities for fellowship after the Sunday morning church services in the adjacent sanctuary.
“Relationships don’t happen during an hour-long service in an auditorium,” Stamps said.
The lobby is also used for meetings of the high school youth group on Sunday nights and the middle school youth group on Wednesday nights, Stamps added. Broadway Christian is located across the street from Mattoon Middle School.
Stamps said the lobby coffee shop sells Land of a Thousand Hills free trade coffee from Rwanda, with the proceeds helping support farm communities there. The shop also sells Mark’s My Store pastries as a fundraiser for the church youth group, which is planning a mission trip to the Dominican Republican.
“You can make a difference in the world just by drinking a cup of coffee and eating a doughnut,” Stamps said.
The construction of the addition began in September 2015 and was completed in time for a grand opening celebration on Sept. 11 this year, Stamps said. He added that Broadway Christian was able to hold its church services on site during the construction process.
Parishioner Tony Sparks volunteered to oversee the construction process, Stamps said. Sparks has previous experience with facility expansions from his past service as executive director of the Mattoon Area Family YMCA.
“(Sparks) was masterful at coordinating it all and making sure everything was done and done well,” Stamps said.
In conjunction with the construction project, Stamps said Broadway Christian has been making renovations to older areas of the building. He said this work includes installing a new playground on the south side of the building and renovating the fourth- and fifth-grade classroom.
Broadway Christian plans to hold an open house with the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce later this year, Stamps said. This event will help the church get the word out that the addition and other areas of the building area available for community use, he said.
“This is one of the ways that we can serve our community,” Stamps said.
Operations Minister Greg Sexton said Broadway Christian’s history in the community dates back to the congregation forming in 1956 and moving into an existing church building at the southeast corner of Broadway Avenue and 14th Street.
Sexton said Broadway Christian purchased its current property, 1205 S. Ninth, in 1975. This site had previously been home to the St. Joseph School Catholic junior high. He said Broadway Christian met in the former school’s gym until the church added an auditorium to the building in 1981.