Lawrenceburg (Tennessee) First United Methodist Church (UMC) received a $10,000 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, a ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. The grant was used to update restrooms, purchase large print hymnals, broadcast the 10:30 a.m. worship service via a local radio station, add a cement ramp into the education building and food pantry, and upgrade lighting.
Founded in 1842, the current sanctuary was built in 1907. An education building and Christian Life Center were added in 1959 and 2000 respectively. While all buildings are still in use, some rooms are not accessible to all; others need updating.
“Like many churches these days,” said Rev. Ed Trimmer, senior pastor at First UMC, “repairs are made based on finances rather than need. Our membership is made up of long-time older members and their families as well as younger families and northern retirees moving into the community. Our goal is to make all three buildings more readily accessible and available so that everyone feels welcome and can safely attend services and activities.”
The first priority was to install grab bars and comfort height toilets in each bathroom. Large print hymnals were purchased and each Sunday the second worship service is broadcasted live via a local radio station.
“The broadcast service has proved to be the most useful thing we have done for our older adults as many are shut-ins,” said Trimmer. “It helps those people feel much more connected to the church.”
The soon-to-be completed wheelchair ramp and upgraded lighting further enhances accessibility and safety for seniors and anyone with disabilities. Already church members appreciate and are benefitting from the numerous retrofitting projects, large print hymnals, and radio broadcast.
“Thanks to the much-improved lighting, those of us who use a cane or a walker have more confidence when walking in our long hallways,” said First UMC member Laura R. “Visibility has increased and the new lights in the Christian Life Center make the room look brand new. This is especially welcome at evening events and meetings where reading may be necessary.”
Loulie B. adds, “I am a long-time member of First UMC. I love my church and was very excited when they decided to broadcast our 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship service. Due to my health I am not always able to attend. It is nice to keep up with the announcements, joys, and concerns of the congregation. The choir has a special place in my heart; I look forward to hearing their anthems. The pastor’s message completes the package with scripture, prayer, and food for thought. But what I like most is the feeling of being a part of the service and staying connected to my church family even when I cannot be there in person.”
Once all of the work is completed, the entire congregation will be invited to a special Sunday service designed to honor senior members.
“We want First UMC to be more user-friendly and accessible for all ages,” said Trimmer. “Thanks in part to the Golden Cross Foundation grant, that vision is becoming a reality.”