Sixty-foot steeple erected on church

Published 10:43 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

A crane operator lifts the top part of the steeple for the new High Street United Methodist Church on Camp Parkway Wednesday. SUBMITTED/BILL BILLINGS

FRANKLIN—J. Cary Kirkland has been involved building a new High Street United Methodist Church since the beginning.

So the 51-year-old wasn’t about to miss the 60-foot-high steeple being put in place on Thursday.

“I have the time and wanted to come and watch,” said Kirkland, who serves on the planning and building committee for the $8.7 million building and has been the church’s organist for 21 years.

Once the fiberglass and aluminum steeple was erected on the 30,000-square-foot church on Camp Parkway, the Rev. Susan Reaves, pastor for High Street Methodist Church, took a 108-foot bucket ride to the top to bless it.

“I wanted to thank God and hope this will become a beacon of hope to those who need it,” Reaves said.

An additional 20 or so parishioners spent more than five hours watching the steeple go up. While they sought refuge from the heat underneath a canopy provided by Wright Funeral Home, a crane operator put the steeple up in three sections. Once in place, a cross was inserted on top.

Everyone attending the event signed the lower portion of the cross, which also read “God bless this church and all who worship here.”

Ann Jervey, building committee chairwoman, said when ground was broken for the church, members signed rocks. They were placed in the shape of a fish and covered with concrete in the area of the 350-seat sanctuary.

The raising of the steeple was announced during the Sunday service so folks could attend.

Diane Arrington, the church’s administrative assistant, closed the office at the current church at 301 W. First Ave., Franklin, to watch the event.

“I couldn’t stand to stay in the office,” said Arrington, who knitted as she watched. “I had to put a sign in the door and come watch.”

Construction on the brick church across from Riverdale Elementary School began in November and should be completed by December. The building includes a roof with handcrafted Buckingham Slate, the same slate that’s on national landmarks like Ford’s Theatre, the Smithsonian Institution Building and the University of Virginia.

The new church also will feature stained-glass windows and light fixtures from the sanctuary of the current church. The windows are memorial windows that date as far back as 1920.

The current church is for sale.