There’s a small chapel on the second floor of the Wesley Center, which is the administrative building belonging to the Mary Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church on Broad Street.
Every Monday from 7 to 8 p.m. there is a service of healing and wholeness in the small chapel.
Soon there will be nothing preventing would-be worshippers and seekers of healing prayers from getting to the small chapel because there will be an elevator to take them there.
Members of the church broke ground Sunday, April 26, for an addition that will include an elevator to the second floor, where the chapel, classrooms and meeting spaces are located.
“This is something we’ve needed for a long time,” said Dennis Darak, chairman of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.
Church members are getting older, and there are those with injuries or disabilities who have a hard time getting to the second floor by way of the stairs, he said.
In addition to the weekly healing service, Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous meetings are held upstairs each week, and there are church activities there on Sundays, making the second floor a busy place.
The elevator will ensure that everyone who wants to will be able to get to the second floor, even if they cannot get there by the stairs.
The addition will include the elevator, storage space, new lobby and handicap accessible bathrooms.
The Rev. Brian Bodt said the project is a continuation of church efforts to ensure access for all.
A handicap ramp was built at the church in the 1980s, and in 2010 two bathrooms in the main church building were made handicap accessible.
The Rev. Bodt spoke about inclusion during his morning worship service.
“The importance of inclusivity cannot be overemphasized,” he said. “Where misguided faith breeds religious and tribal conflict of every stripe, there is an impulse to restrict, to label, to draw circles of demarcation that divide insiders from outsiders. Christians, no less than others, are vulnerable to this impulse. Possessing the right doctrine, the right politics, the right denominational pedigree determines who are ‘really’ Christian.”
Bill Petremont, who headed the building committee for the addition, was one of the speakers during Sunday’s ground breaking ceremony. He said the idea for the elevator and addition surfaced 10 years ago, and he credited architect Ray Oliver for bringing it to life by putting it to paper. Petremont also thanked Rev. Bodt “for his vision,” and other church members who moved the project along.
A campaign called “Lift Us Up,” fed by parishioners and friends, has raised $312,000 of the $400,000 needed for the addition.
Shortly before metal shovels pierced the ground Sunday, Connecticut District United Methodist Church District Supt. Kenneth Kieffer talked about an interview with writer and poet Carl Sandburg, in which Sandburg said the ugliest word in the English language is “exclusive.”
“That’s why we’re here today,” Kieffer said. “All means all.”
Mayor Ben Blake was on hand for the ceremony. Blake promised the crowd that the city’s building inspection department has improved greatly, and that city red tape won’t hold up construction of the addition.
Kelly O’Hara, co-lay leader at Mary Taylor, said the addition is very important to the congregation because handicap accessibility is important.
He pointed to the front of the main church, where two rows of pews were removed three years ago to make it easier for people in wheelchairs to get in. Then he led the way to the small chapel two flights up in the building next door and noted that the elevator will soon make it easier for people to get there too.