New High Street UMC opens

Published 10:35 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Construction workers walk through the sanctuary of the new High Street United Methodist Church, which held its first service on Sunday. -- Don Bridgers | Tidewater News

Contractor Steve Staples points out the work he did inside the sanctuary at the new High Street United Methodist Church as members, from left in front, Ann Jervey, Gaynelle Riddick and Beth Luck; and in back, Willie Jester, Calvin Wilkerson and Bob Luck, look on. -- Don Bridgers | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—Gaynelle Riddick spotted smiles through tears during Sunday’s first service at the new High Street United Methodist Church.

“People were just in awe. I saw tears running down their cheeks,” said Riddick, who served on the building committee for the $8.7 million church on Camp Parkway outside Franklin. “It was a very emotional day.”

Five years of studying and planning culminated with a groundbreaking in June 2010 on 47 acres across from Riverdale Elementary School. A major gift and capital campaign made the project possible.

The building includes a 350-seat sanctuary, a two-story education building, a fellowship hall with a kitchen, and administration offices. The brick church built of Georgian and Jeffersonian design has a slate roof and a steeple rising more than 100 feet.

Building committee member Ann Jervey estimated that twice as many people as usual attended the 8:30 and 11 a.m. services.

“We had visitors, which we loved having, and we had people who have grown up in the church and wanted to come to our first service,” Jervey said. “We loved it and everybody thought it was just wonderful.”

She noted the building is not completely finished.

“There’s always a punch list,” Jervey said.

A member since 1992, Jennifer Stephenson was very excited about attending the latter service.

“It was beautiful, it truly was,” Stephenson said. “We’re not completely finished, but they did an awesome job. What a wonderful gift it is.”

“It was fun watching everyone come in and seeing their faces, especially the children,” she added. “It is for their future that we took this leap of faith and built this beautiful church. There is such a special spirit there. It is hard to explain.”

Riddick called the day “moving.”

“I saw a guy, and when he went in, he just couldn’t take it all in,” she said. “After the service, I saw him staring at his pew, just standing there, taking it all in.”

Jervey noted there is a possible buyer for the church’s building on West First Avenue in Franklin. She referred questions to member Westbrook Parker, who could not be reached for comment.