Memories from the Building Committee Chairperson

During a 1980 summer afternoon drive, Barrie Free Methodist Church (BFMC) members Larry and Ruth Muxworthy stopped at a piece of farmland at 290 Cundles Rd. E. in Barrie, and prayed. Their request to God was to protect this land if this is where He wanted the next Free Methodist Church in Barrie to be built.

The process began as the BFMC congregation grew again to fill the 200 Bayfield St. location. We had done it before, had talked of building or relocating, but the process just did not happen and the church would shrink in size. So the Long-Range Planning Committee (LRP) started to investigate the options. Timothy Christian School was soon to be on the market, so pursuit was made to purchase. Talks and negotiations ensued for close to a year, but in the end, this was not the location we were to be.

Two morning services had begun in September 1999, and since we were already in the dilemma of needing larger facilities, society voted unanimously to list the properties at the corner of Bayfield and Dalton Streets with a realtor and to relocate. This was faith, as we had no options in sight at this time. On July 13, 2000, an offer was accepted on three of the four parcels owned by the church at the Bayfield location.

LRP had already begun the search for property or an existing building. The property at 290 Cundles Rd. E. was considered, but the committee found it was too expensive. The realtor was ferreting out properties or buildings and many options were pursued. One option had been pursued to the point of making a conditional offer but was stopped in the nick of time to keep the church from being committed to a deal that would soon become a nightmare. Another property was situated in the neighbouring township and was expected to be expropriated within the coming years. A large sewer system would need to be installed, a well drilled and a fire pond installed, only to be removed when expropriation took place. This option was too expensive for the short-term need of these amenities.
A visit was made to a Regional and Urban Development Planner who informed the committee of properties that would suit our needs and where zoning could be changed. Before we knew it, the committee was again pursuing 290 Cundles Rd. E. This property had a draft plan attached to it and a road ran through the property. The price was high considering that whomever purchased the property would also be required to install sewer, water and gas lines as well as complete the street that ran through the property. LRP committee was not a land developer and felt the need to start looking for other properties again.

Since prayer was so vital to the life of this committee, God was heard and the committee was instructed to keep going. A conditional offer, which included approval of the church society, was presented and accepted by the owner, but the church society had not yet voted. The Regional and Urban Development Planner set up meetings for the LRP to meet land developers who might be interested in purchasing the townhouse lots and installing the road and utilities. Only one developer showed up. After discussion with this developer, no agreement was made and both parties left the meeting expecting to never see each other again. Three days later the developer called to say he could not get the BFMC project off his mind. An initial verbal deal was made. The society declined the offer made to the existing owner of the land; the developer renegotiated and purchased the property plus two additional adjacent properties, reworked the draft plan and pursued rezoning as necessary. Then the developer sold to BFMC the required property. A better plan was worked and the land was purchased for a much lower price. As the deal closes, the church soon realizes that the lawyer has waived his fees for the purchase of 290 Cundles Rd. E. Again, God had prepared and placed the right people in our situation.

As the architect worked on the drawings for the building, a site plan was also in progress. City of Barrie informed the architect of the access entrances it is allowing the church. The decision was not satisfactory, so a visit is made to city hall where Pastor Cliff and LRP are informed that the Mayor had already intervened, and the needed entrances are approved.

The City of Barrie begins the study required to widen Cundles Rd. It is reported that an estimated 30,000 cars would pass by the church site each day. Our building was going to be well noticed by the people of Barrie .

Our first request for mortgage funds to build all of phase 1 was denied in April 2003. The Building Committee worked with our builder to resize the project to a plan that included construction of the outer shell of the building and completing only a portion of the interior. On June 20, 2003, approval was received for a construction loan to fit this new approach.

The City of Barrie required a Letter of Credit before finalizing the Site Plan Agreement and issuing the Building Permit. This money would be held in our own bank account, by the bank, until all site work was completed to the city requirements. This amount was $327,225. The quotes received from subtrades to complete this work were only $236,625, a difference of $90,600. As finances became tight, invoices needed to be paid and the next draw had not been received, a request was made to the mayor for the $90,600 to be released. Again we found that the same Mayor helping us by questioning the city departments as to why they would hold the additional funds if the completion of the site work could be done at a lesser cost by the church. Funds were immediately released and our cash-flow problem was resolved. As the building construction progressed, miracles continued to happen as cheques unexpectedly arrived, and the right people miraculously answered phone calls made especially prior to holiday time.

Hurricane Isabel was geared to blow in on September 19th, 2003. The weather reports and news broadcasts stated that it would be similar to Hurricane Hazel that affected our area in 1954. The builder secured the concrete walls, which were only partially complete and braced the stud walls. We sent the concern to the prayer chain for most of the week prior to the storm. The hurricane was downgraded considerably and blew easterly thus the winds and storm were no more than a thunderstorm.

As our building was taking shape, one of the subtrade companies decided to sign back the payment for their services. Total donation to the church building project from this one company was $36,000.

March 10, 2004 at 8:00 a.m., a clear sky, a crisp cold morning, and the cross was lifted and installed on the front of the building. What better symbol to let Barrie know we were a church, a beacon to the city. Over the months as congregation members were in conversation with the people of Barrie , it became obvious that the building was being watched while under construction. Many were impressed with the size and style of the building.

Approval came on June 1, 2004 to complete the next portion of Phase 1, which included the halls, servery (kitchen) and winterizing the unfinished areas. So here we were again, starting the process all over; some interior stud walls to be built, more electrical, more plumbing, more insulating, etc. At the end of August, the official board then gave the building team approval to complete the classroom areas. This decision would mean the completion of Phase One. To date, only a few items need to be completed: the air-lock wall inside the north narthex, wheelchair lift to the stage and in-ground sprinkler system, items we can live without for the present.

As decisions were being made about materials to be used in construction, the decision was always for low-maintenance and energy efficiency. Thus we have a building that will serve us well as we worship, as we minister, and as we grow.

Some interesting facts about our building:
► September 6th, 2003 was the first ‘BIG’ workbee dubbed the Framing Frenzy. 426 volunteer hours were clocked that day with 73 volunteers excluding food servers
► March 7, 2004 we held our first church service in the new building
► Grand Opening service was April 4, 2004 with 616 in attendance
► Volunteer hours of work on the building totaled 5648.5 hours
► 206 volunteers worked on site
► Size of phase One is approximately ½ acre or 20,483 square feet.

The building construction was finished the end of October 2004. Until phase two begins, the building team is ‘taking a breather’ and the BFMC congregation is enjoying the building.

By Heather Sutton, Barrie FMC