Parishioners and members of the community gathered in the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church Thursday night to celebrate the completion of a major renovation project to the hall that houses Grace’s Kitchen.
As part of the $60,000 project,the burnt-orange linoleum flooring was replaced with tile, and the industrial ceiling and lighting replaced with far more polished fixtures, among many other improvements.
During the celebration, Priest Leigh Waggoner told the crowd when she took over leadership at the church three and half years ago she knew that feeding people would be a great subtext of the church.
But now, thanks to Richard Ballantine, chairman of Ballantine Communication Inc.’s board of directors, the church could now also feed people with beauty, she said.
“It was Richard who came forward and said: “What if?’” Waggoner said.
The church’s continued involvement in the community had made such an impression that he wanted to get involved, he told the crowd.
“I’m very glad to have been a part of this,” he said.
The small congregation of 65 people raised $11,000 for the project and did some of the labor themselves. During the construction that started in June, volunteers also made sure that Grace’s Kitchen’s lunches were still served at the Methodist church.
“I marvel at how all of you helped out,” Ballantine said.
The hall’s change in atmosphere to a bright, fresh and modern space from the dated and much darker decor was the talk of the event. One of the community members, M.B. McAfee, recalled how 52 years ago, her wedding reception had been held in the hall and nothing had changed in the hall until now.
“I would recommend anybody having their wedding reception here now,” she said.
In addition to all the renovations, fine art photography by parishioner Chuck Haspels brought a finishing touch to the room. The display is the first of what Waggoner plans to be a rotating display. She is also offering the space to nonprofits for free.
“I don’t think churches should sit empty during the day. I want St. Barnabas to be a space the community uses,” she said.