On the surface, Trinity on the Hill’s new $5.7 million sanctuary looks very much like the old one.
There are the same pews, now refinished, and the same artwork, hung in new locations.
Some of the biggest changes are harder to see.
Behind the stained glass, there are LEDs. Under the pulpit, a computer monitor. In front of the choir loft, a motorized rail that rises with the flip of a switch.
“We wanted to be on the cutting edge of technology while still looking traditional,” said the Rev. Dan Brown, the pastor of the church.
After a year and a half of construction, the church will consecrate its new sanctuary. The public can tour the space during an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. today.
“It was important that our sanctuary look like Trinity,” said Hugh Hamilton, the chair of the Nehemiah Project, the name of the church’s building initiative. “We didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh my God, what have you done with the place?’ ”
Construction began in April 2010, after the church set out to raise $7 million in a four-year capital campaign.
“It’s been astounding,” Brown said. “We entered into the capital campaign in the fall of 2008. We honestly did not know what would happen financially, but we trusted and moved ahead.”
The entire room was gutted.
“We took her down to four walls and a floor,” Brown said.
Before rebuilding, church members covered the floor and walls with prayers and scripture scribbled with markers.
“It was brick walls, slab floor and blue sky,” Hamilton said. “We literally covered it with scripture.”
Some of the old church was salvaged. Members made crafts using old crosses, baskets, kneeling pads and light fixtures from their former sanctuary, and will sell them at a silent auction today.
The former sanctuary was built in the 1950s, and apart from cosmetic changes to the carpet and paint and an air conditioning upgrade, it’s remained largely unchanged.
“It’s a real compliment to the original committee to have built something that last so long,” Hamilton said.
But time had taken its toll, and the church building was suffering from “severe structural and mechanical problems,” Hamilton said.
The sanctuary now has a new roof, air conditioning and heating, and electric work. The renovation also included a hybrid pipe organ and three large stained glass windows behind the pulpit. The windows are back-lit with LED lights, because they line an interior wall that receives no natural light.
The ceiling was raised 10 feet, and the choir loft doubled in size.
The church also upgraded its television ministry, which had been using cameras purchased in the early 1970s.
“Our equipment was so old, we had to buy parts on eBay just to fix them,” Brown said.
Now, the church broadcasts in high definition, and the new remote cameras are less distracting for those in the sanctuary.
The new sanctuary has been in use since Easter, Brown said, but the church has waited to consecrate the space until renovations were completed this week.
During construction, the congregation met in its old gym, which had been turned into a worship center. Currently, 800 to 1,000 attend services at Trinity every week.
In the beginning of the project, Hamilton would occasionally get comments about how difficult it must be to inspire people to give for needs such as electrical wiring and lighting.
“I say, ‘That’s not what this is about,’ ” he said. “I say, ‘We’re going to be using this to revitalize the spiritual component of the church.’ ”
That’s why the renovation was named The Nehemiah Project, Brown said.
“The book of Nehemiah is about a man who went back to Jerusalem and not only renovated and rebuilt the city, but led a spiritual revival as well,” Brown said. “It reminds us that this project isn’t just about renovating a building.”