An addition to First Congregational Church of Rockford was a little controversial as it included tearing down an existing home on the block of Fremont Street, but church members believe the neighborhood should be happy with the results.
In place of the home at 17 S.Fremont, there will now be green space which the church can use for outdoor activities and for beauty. The addition to the church, part of the overall $497,000 project was to the west of the existing structure. The lovely and well-preserved sanctuary dates back to 1874 and is indeed, as its name indicates, the first congregation organized in Rockford. Pastor Laurie TenHave-Chapman said the church was astounded and thrilled to be able to undertake the significant improvement without taking a loan. They have experienced countless miracles of sacrificial giving that enables them to “burn the mortgage” even as they dedicate the building! In this time of financial recession the 290-member church family is convinced that they have faithfully followed God’s leading such that this dream could be a reality.
Church members raised the funds for the project before asking Rockford City Council for approval to demolish the home and change traffic flow of the church. Formerly, church parking was accessed by a single drive from Bridge Street and during peak times, such as before and after services, was awkward. Part of the project included changing entry and exit to the church parking from two-way to one way from Fremont Street with exiting traffic leaving on Bridge Street.
The new two-story addition is about 3,200 square feet and allows the church to better serve the needs of their members on many levels. The lower level addition includes added restrooms, Pastor’s office, Youth Leader/Bookkeepers office, a four to six year-old Worship Center and classrooms for grades one through three. The second floor addition includes classrooms for grades 4 to 6, junior high and senior high. Additionally there will be a new entry overhang as a drop off point at the side doors, the steeple will once again be lit and a cupola with a rooster weather vane will be added on the south end of the addition.
During the month of October, the following will be accomplished: (1) interior trim installed; (2) exterior siding completed and trim painted; (3) tile and partitions installed in restrooms; (4) portico over parking lot entrance built; and, (5) asphalt base coat applied to parking lot and driveway.
The project is expected to be completed by mid-November and the congregation looks forward to a celebrative dedication of this Christian Education wing that will enable the church to continue its 165 year long commitment of ministering to and with the Rockford area residents.