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Church responds to building concerns

August 2, 2013

Photo provided Bremen United Methodist Church Pastor Jeff Smith speaks during a recent event. The congregation recently announced plans to build a new church in Bremen. Behind Smith in the background is District Superintendent Rev. Larry Whitehead. 

BREMEN — Bremen United Methodist Church came together Sunday evening July 21 at “Digger’s Pond” for a long awaited and very special celebration event.
As the first phase of the church’s capital campaign is winding down, not only was it a time to celebrate the commitments made to the Scriptural Funding Campaign, but a time to reflect on the very long journey the congregation has made to reach this point.
Two United Methodist congregations, Grace and Salem, have each had a strong presence in the Bremen community for well over a hundred years.
However, in 2009 the two congregations came together deciding that “Together, We’re Better.”
Bremen United Methodist Church was born.
Much prayer, study and discussion and planning have gone into the ministry direction and focus this new congregation would take.
The outcome has been to focus on building bridges in our community for individuals to reach Jesus Christ.
The church has a strong youth ministry that reaches out to young people who often do not have a church background.
The students need to be able to walk to the church. This was part of the decision for the congregation to retain its central downtown Bremen location.
The merger also gave the congregation two structures, each over one hundred years old.
The two buildings have been updated and renovated, especially the Grace building into a student center, to try to accommodate the ministry vision the church has made.
Costly repairs to both building’s heating systems, windows and roofs have been made in the past years, but it seems to never end.
Neither building, together or separately, really works for the church to do the ministry it feels called to do.
The previous Salem congregation saw a need to either build or renovate its structure over 25 years ago.
They studied and adapted many options and plans.
For one reason or another, each one seemed to fall apart or come to a dead end, except staying in its current location.
As the new Bremen United Methodist Church began to implement its vision, the building became a stumbling block.
Again the congregation looked at options to relocate or renovate, but again it became obvious to stay downtown.
Renovating the existing downtown church seemed to be the solution. After several plans were drawn to do just that, problems kept coming to light.
Not only was adding on and renovating very costly, the structure would have many levels and a lot of wasted space trying to “make it work.”
Weddings and funerals would continue to spill right out onto Plymouth Street.
It was a very daring and gut wrenching decision to look at a totally new structure at the downtown location.
The congregation realized that the building is not sacred, but the work the church does is.
The building is one tool the church has to use to accomplish the job God has set before them.
The ministry of Bremen United Methodist Church does affect the entire community. It is important that their ministry continue.
The new building will change the look of downtown Bremen, but Bremen United Methodist’s new family life center will be a beautiful asset to the downtown Bremen landscape.
The event Sunday celebrated the journey Bremen United Methodist Church has made up to this point and the journey they have before them to build a building to help the congregation to build bridges.

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