Sky's the limit for First United Methodist Church construction project

The First United Methodist Church's newly constructed pavilion is located on an immaculate, arboreal, 13-acre property just off of South Michael Road in St. Marys. The pavilion, which will be available for rental to the public, can seat between 260 and 275 people and includes a stone fireplace, kitchen, handicap-accessible restrooms, a two-stall indoor garage, parking lot, utility room and electric outlets. Sandy Buerk, the church's finance chair, said she is excited about the location's potential and suggested the space is ideal for just about any outdoor gathering or activity, including weddings, receptions and family reunions. "Where else in St. Marys could you have a wedding in a setting like this?" she asked. A 30-foot high, hand-carved, nondenominational wooden cross in the northeast corner of the field immediately catches visitors' attention. Cal Gardner, the church's administrative council chair, said the church hopes to offer a welcoming space that the community can enjoy. "That's why there's no symbol on the cross, no symbol on this building, it's for the community to use," Gardner said. He said church members also hope the woodland property will attract outdoor types and hunters for some of their special events. They are considering working with the Christian Bowhunters of America, a nondenominational ministry, to set up field trials in the woods around the property. The potential also exists to have outside groups come in to hold Christian music concerts there. Buerk said she hopes that through the use of the property, people will encourage some to get to know the church, and in turn come to know God.The church has already begun to utilize the pavilion, holding outdoor and sunrise services, church picnics, and a dedication of the cross officiated by pastor Chris Kindle. They are planning a Labor Day weekend service, as well as considering holding outdoor Sunday school classes, weather permitting.