The Waynesburg Bible Chapel started its journey in a living room, according to heislove.org, until growth prompted the building on 800 E. Greene St. to be bought. Years later, more expansion is necessary.
Jay Buckhalter, a minister at the chapel, began to notice a steady uptick in congregants, more than the usual shifts of a church.
“Attendance in any church fluctuates up or down slightly from Sunday to Sunday,” Buckhalter said. “However, we have noticed a consistent gradual increase in attendance over the past couple of years … I would say the biggest increase this year has come from college students.”
Robert Redinger, congregant at the Bible Chapel, started attending the chapel his freshman year at Waynesburg University and said the growth was noticeable.
“I have to come at least 10 minutes early now because it’s hard to find seats,” Redinger said.
Because of this, Buckhalter said the elders and deacons have been contemplating the expansion project for a couple of years, as it also affects families of newcomers.
“If a family comes in, they expect to sit together. If they have to split up and sit in different locations, it can be uncomfortable for them, particularly if they are new to the church, and it may result in them not coming back,” Buckhalter said. “We would like to avoid that situation.”
Although the Bible Chapel has a board of trustees, they are not managing this project. The church, governed by elders and deacons, has designated Matthew Stewart, worship leader, to manage this project.
Buckhalter said Stewart will be handling all of the day-to-day affairs, as he is capable with his experience in construction. Buckhalter is hopeful the project will be finished within a couple of months, although there is no definitive timetable. He also said debris won’t stop worship.
“We are planning to do construction during the week and make sure to clean up enough each week to be able to still hold services on Sundays,” Buckhalter said.
Phase one is estimated to cost $15,000, Buckhalter said, while phase two’s cost is yet to be determined.
“We feel strongly that we can come in under budget fairly easily by doing a lot of the work ourselves,” Buckhalter said.
Buckhalter said unknown variables will inevitably come up, but he doesn’t anticipate any obstacles derailing the process. He said he is excited to welcome a refreshing change.
“There are two things that I am looking forward to the most. The first is the potential for even more people to be able to enjoy worshipping with us. I fear some have chosen not to stay, and not for reasons of belief, but rather, for reasons of seating,” Buckhalter said. “The second is that I am looking forward to seeing both of our auditoriums getting a facelift. This will be a welcomed refresh.”
In addition to the expansion project, the Bible Chapel is also expanding their parking lot. Last year, they purchased a house behind the church building and have been slowly working on getting fill-dirt to level and expand their current parking lot.
“We are very excited about the possibility of having enough places to park more cars, as well as enough seats for everyone to sit down and enjoy worshipping together comfortably,” Buckhalter said.