Leaders of Summit Evangelical Free Church in Alta are optimistic their new church structure will be ready for its first worship service by the beginning of April, as construction on the project is on track to be completed within the next few months.
The building site, located across from the Alta Elementary School on the south side of town, has been a construction zone since last spring, when members of the congregation saw the first physical signs of progress on a project which will house a worship center, fellowship hall, youth room, nursery, kitchen, classrooms and office space when finished.
The new facility will be the first permanent home for the congregation, which has called the Roxy Theatre in Alta its home ever since the church's inception in January of 1995. Members decided to build the new church for a variety of reasons, including additional space for meetings and activities, and Senior Pastor Doug Corlew said he and everyone else at Summit is excited about the building.
"We think this new facility is going to help us do a lot of great things," Corlew said. "It allows us to have a lot of flexibility and gives us more space than we had at the Roxy, and we'll also be able to have more options for events and services in here as well. We're really excited about the possibilities this can provide in the future."
The facility will be a welcome change for church members, who saw that Summit was outgrowing the space provided by the Roxy. Worship was held in the auditorium of the theatre, while congregation-wide meetings were held in the basement of the building.
With no separate youth room, the church used the Lighthouse, located just down the street, as a place to conduct youth meetings and hold events and activities for students.
While Corlew said the congregation has been grateful for the ability to meet and worship at the Roxy, everyone knew they would eventually have to move into a building of their own in order to grow and provide expanded services such as a larger nursery, a youth room and a large fellowship hall.
"I think we've always known that the Roxy was just a temporary option for us," Corlew said. "The school's been very gracious to us for letting us use the Roxy, and it's been a great stepping stone for us, but we had a limited amount of space in there, and that's one of the primary reasons we are building this facility."
The estimated cost of the entire construction project is approximately $2 million, but Corlew said the 500 members of Summit Evangelical have already raised $1 million of that total in a little over three years.
Corlew said the benevolent nature of the congregation has been the crucial element in the project's success, as the contributions will help the church in the short term by allowing the facility to be built now and will aid Summit in the long term by helping reduce the amount of debt the church will incur from borrowing money.
"We've been blessed with the complete support of the congregation," Corlew said. "The congregation has been completely united behind this project, because they see the need for it, and they have been very generous in their support of this. They've been very serious about raising money for the construction, and it's been a great thing to see how united everyone is toward this facility."
The heart of the structure will be the worship center, a versatile room which will house worship services, congregational meetings, wedding receptions and concerts, and will include a carpeted floor with lines for basketball and volleyball courts on it.
The new structure will also include a fellowship hall on the west side of the building, which will serve as a place to hold functions such as funerals and small-group meetings which require a more intimate setting than the one found in the large worship center.
"The fellowship hall will be able to seat around 100 to 150 people, and we thought it would be a place that would give us more flexibility," Corlew said. "The worship center wouldn't be the best place for some things because of its size, and this is a room to accommodate those smaller events."
Corlew said the main purpose of the building is to help the congregation reach out to others in the community, and said he thinks the new structure will help he and other Summit members accomplish that goal
"We call it a facility because it will help facilitate our vision," Corlew said. "This will be a building that will help us with our mission of helping others learn about God and come to know God. That's really what this is all about.