More than 100 people showed up to celebrate something very old along with something very new at Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church this past Sunday (July 12). As part of their 150th anniversary celebration, parishioners got their first look at the historic sanctuary that had been completely remodeled.
“What a joy,” says the church’s property chair committee John Bott. “Seeing people walk in for the first time. They’re the same floors as they were when they opened the doors in 1866.”
Not only did the 180-member church refinish the sanctuary floor to its original condition—patching the bad spots and sanding it—they also took out an old water boiler heater that occupied the inside walls across the back of the sanctuary.
“More than 1,600 pounds of scrap metal went to the recycler,” says Bott. “We put in forced air furnaces, spray foam installation, repainted the entire inside, and when the floors were done, we put in new pews.”
All in the span of one month.
“We’ve been out of the sanctuary since June 14,” says the Rev. Joel Weible.
“Toward the end we kept everybody from seeing it until today,” adds Bott.
About 20 miles northeast of Louisville, Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church is located in a beautiful pastoral setting on seven acres of land; off of highway 146, across the railroad tracks, and behind the town’s playhouse.The sanctuary renovation is the culmination of a three-year $150,000 improvement campaign that included substantial improvements to the church’s kitchen, and the Family Life Center.
“When you start a project like this, you don’t really know what it’s going to look like,” says Bott. “But you have hopes. When Pastor Joel and I saw the finished product, we looked at each other and said, ‘this exceeds everything we were hoping for.’”
“So much of the headline news is about church doors closing and worship services diminishing,” says Weible. “But we have been holding steady, bucking trends, little by little growing from generation to generation.”
In his sermon Sunday, Weible pointed to the cushions on the seats of the new pews asking “Are you comfortable?” to great laughter. His point: Now is the time to turn outward again to live into the gospel by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, shelter strangers and visiting prisoners.
“We’ve done something good for years ahead,” says Weible. “But it wasn’t just for ourselves. For those arriving now, and those who will be coming, we’ve prepared a stage to provide needs for the next couple of generations. That’s the joy of it for me.”
“Your faith means a lot to you,” says Bott. “A number of kids who have gone to college have moved back, and returned to church.”
“There’s a big time satisfaction knowing we’ve made a commitment to their future,” he adds. “We’re here, we’re strong, and we hope to be for a long time.”