Homestead UMC Receives Grant to Improve Church’s Accessibility

Homestead UMC member and church secretary Jackie Szaflarski benefitted from using the church’s repaired lift after knee surgery made navigating the church’s stairs and ramp difficult. A grant from the Golden Cross Foundation enabled church members to finish the needed repairs to the lift.

Homestead United Methodist Church in Crossville, Tennessee, received a $2,529.75 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, a ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. The grant was used to finish repairing a broken lift in the church’s three-story structure.

Homestead UMC’s facilities have a unique history. It was built in pieces — starting in 1946 when an Army chapel at Camp Forrest in Tullahoma, Tennessee, was purchased for $1,500, dismantled, and reassembled at its current site. In the ’80s, church members added an education wing and side narthex which included a lift for the building’s three levels.

When the lift broke in 2018, members began making repairs but were unable to complete them due to a lack of funds. Church-goers could still access all floors via a ramp or stairs, but navigating those became difficult — and even impossible — for people using wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. In at least one case, an active member stopped attending because she was unable to navigate the ramp and stairs.

Realizing the importance of repairing the lift, church members applied for and received a grant from the Golden Cross Foundation. The money was used to finish the needed repairs.

Since then, those with mobility issues have been blessed with restored accessibility to all floors. Jackie Szaflarski, Homestead’s church secretary, experienced this first-hand after having knee replacement surgery.

“I attended church one week after my surgery and came back to work the week after that,” said Szaflarski. “Without the lift, I would have not been able to return that quickly. My office is in the fellowship hall. Before the lift was repaired, the only way to access it was by the ramp or stairs. The lift enabled me to safely navigate the building.”

Church members are genuinely happy to have the lift repaired. They are also looking forward to returning to worship and other activities once the COVID-19 restrictions for gathering are lifted and church leaders deem it safe for members to return.

“Our church is not wealthy and the money needed to fix the lift was more than we could afford on our own,” said Szaflarski. “The grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, enabled us to finish repairing the lift. Now older adult members and anyone with mobility issues will be able to attend all church services and events when we reopen.”