After countless hours of hard work, much of it done by church members and the pastor, the final touches are being put into place at the old Sue Reynolds Elementary School.
Sunday morning, two years after purchasing the building on Wrightsboro Road, the Vineyard Community Church will hold services in its new home.
Vineyard purchased the 9,500-square-foot building in July 2014 for $220,000. The Rev. Jeff Miller said the current mortgage payments are less than what he was paying for rent on half the space and no land.
Members did as much of the work themselves as they could, to save money.
The building is familiar – the wood floors have been restored, the chalkboards are intact, even the urinals in the men’s bathroom have been restored.
“We really worked to preserve as much as we could,” Miller said.
And yet it’s new.
Where a mural of trees and animals greeted guests walking through the double doors, there is now a wall-mounted decorative water fountain and welcome table. Nearby are tables offering information, complimentary coffee and snacks, awaiting congregation members and guests.
To the right, classrooms have been designed for the various age groups that make up the children’s church. Handmade wooden signs direct children to their classrooms.
To the left, inviting meeting spaces are filled with comfy couches for adults and teens to relax, visit and participate in group discussions.
The sanctuary, which was once the school’s auditorium, has undergone the greatest tranformation, as plaster has been chiseled off some of the brick walls and columns, the ceiling beams are exposed and painted dark brown, and the stage has been enlarged to make room for the pulpit and worship band.
The decor represents what the church is about. The comfy nature of the sofas, the coffee pots, lamps, pianos, bookshelves and the warm colors give the building a comfortable, homey feel, and encourage the feeling of home and family.
A section of wall in the hallway reminds guests of the Persecuted Church, which Vineyard supports.
In the sanctuary, large canvas banners display Galatians 3:28 – “In Jesus you are all one” – in six languages, illustrating the church’s work toward racial reconciliation.
“We’re embracing every color, every age. We want the young and the old. We want the losers. We want the cool. We want the black. We want the white. We want the Asian, the Hispanic,” Miller said. “We focus on being a church that’s not cliquey.”
The church also nods to its new home’s heritage. An old fire hose box has been converted into a display for Sue Reynolds Elementary memorabilia that includes hall passes, a sign for the principal’s office and photos.
“These are all things that people gave us or that we found,” Miller said.
The land behind the building offers plenty of space for parking and church picnics, and will have plenty of room for bounce houses and other events for the annual Autumn Feast.
This year’s feast will be more special, as the church will likely combine the festival with a 15th anniversary and grand opening celebration.
Throughout the building, the walls are adorned with artwork and sculptures created by its members.
“We place a big emphasis on the creative nature of God,” Miller said. “There’s a big push for people to be creative.”
Miller said he’d love it if former students of the school came to see what they’ve done with the place, and guests are always welcome to see what the church is about.
Services will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday.
For more information, go to vccaugusta.org.