BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The folks at Harmony Bible Church are close to opening a new place of worship in Fort Madison.
Pastor Andrew Wiese said construction is fully underway and they have set a grand opening for Feb. 12 at 1602 Avenue F.
The organization is part of the larger Harmony Bible campus in Danville and will now have their first physical footprint in Fort Madison.
The building is a former church and former satellite location for Southeastern Community College. Fort Madison High School leased the lower floor for its Creative Learning Center curriculum from the college.
Wiese said he’s excited about the possibilities and the programming the new building will make possible.
“One of the things we have scheduled is a group meeting called ‘Celebrate Recovery’, where we help people deal with hurt, habits and hangups,” Wiese said. “It’s really a great program. We have one in Burlington on Mondays and we’ll do ours on Tuesday. It’s a good place for people to find some freedom from things like addiction, and non-addiction issues.”
There will also be Sunday School classes on the lower level during worship but only through second grade. Wiese said he would like to see that program grow to fifth grade as attendance grows.
The deceptively large worship auditorium has been pulled back into shape from when the original church was functional. Natural wood ceilings arch up to a peak with decorative supports running across the span of the peaked ceiling. The church has put in an 8-foot large screen monitor in the front stage area and Wiese said pews will be put back in place that will accommodate 200 in the parish. The auditorium will have full audio and video capabilities.
“Our attendance right now with children and adults is right around 100 so we’ve got some room to grow,” Wiese said. “Our services typically average around 80..sometimes we get more and sometimes less, depending on the seasons and time of year.”
There is a fellowship area inside the front doors with full restrooms and in the basement is a kitchen area, a nursery and about 4 other classrooms and a modernized fire sprinkler system that SCC had installed.
All in all, Wiese said the construction didn’t have any real hiccups because SCC had taken such good care of the property. Crews are putting in all new parquet wooden floors in the basement and most of the upper level. Some blacktop has been brought in to provide for additional parking on the lower level. Wiese said volunteers will probably work on repainting and landscaping outdoors when the weather is more suitable.
“We purchased the building on Sept. 30. It got pretty cold quick and we didn’t have time to get that work done,” he said. “But we have been able to put up new gutters.”
The church paid SCC $230,000 for the building and budgeted $170,000 for renovations. But Wiese said renovations to this point are at about $80,000 with some stuff to still come in.
The church had been meeting in the Riverview Park pavilion, renting that space from the City of Fort Madison. And one time even held worship at Comfort Inn.
“We’ve been meeting at the pavilion for a year and a half. We’ve been looking for a building for the past year and a half,” he said. “We’ve looked at a lot of buildings, some weren’t available, some were available for the wrong price. This then came available and it used to be a church so we came in and took a look.”
The church will be holding a grand opening on its first day of service that will begin at 10:30. Wiese said services have been starting at 10:00 at the pavilion, but once in the new building they will all begin at 10:30.