The First United Methodist Church in Morris now has a brand-new addition, “The Wesley Center,” dedicated in June and named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement.
Senior Pastor Robert Sathuri said the building has been 20 years in the making. Construction began last fall at the North Street location, between Liberty and Wauponsee Streets adjacent to the main church.
“It’s a massive space,” Sathuri said. “It’s primarily for young people because as a church, we have been growing, and the young people wanted to have their own space. It’s their assigned sacred space, and they can have access to it any time.”
The church’s junior high and high school youth groups previously met in the main building’s fellowship hall, Sathuri said, which served them well, but the new addition offers much more.
Inside the one-story building is a fully-accessible space with couches and chairs for Bible study, meetings or just hanging out; a small stage area; a kitchenette; a large gymnasium where half-court basketball, volleyball and other games can be played; a shower and restrooms; and storage space.
There is also a separate enclosed space for storage of the church’s early response team trailer, which members use to help where there is a national emergency, such as a flood or hurricane. There is green space outside for events and fun activities.
Associate Pastor Laura Wilson Underwood said the new space will also be used for church programming with parents and families and will be used for some community events, as well. It can also be rented out for some uses.
The church is an active one in the community and is also used by Cub, Boy and Girl Scouts; Morris Watercolor Guild; 4-H; PADS and soccer meetings. Many of those groups will continue to meet inside the main church, and some will meet in the addition.
“I’m excited because the whole process was the result of a lot of prayer and self-reflection,” Underwood said, “and I’m excited to see how we continue that work of listening to God and how we might be called to use that space.”
Underwood said one of the first community events in the new building will be “Feeling God’s Love,” scheduled for July 28 at noon.
“It’s for families with grade school children,” she said, “but anyone can come. We will have crafts and games.”
At the June dedication, scripture readings included 1 Corinthians 3:16, which reads, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”
The construction of the addition was not the only building project at the church this year. Other projects updated or created a welcome center, more restrooms, and an augmented nursery with space for nursing mothers. Sathuri said the funds to build were from the much-appreciated gifts of the congregation.
“It’s a beautiful space,” Sathuri said. “It is for the glory of God, and it is for the faith witness and nurture and also for the strengthening of the families in Morris. . . When we dream with God, God makes it happen.”
The First United Methodist Church in Morris hosts Sunday services at 9 a.m. and Sunday schools at 10:30 a.m. It also hosts a more contemporary service Saturday evenings at 5:30 p.m. Also on Sundays, listen to the worship service on the radio at 95.7 FM at 11 a.m.
For information about the church, visit www.morrisumc.com or call 815-942-0809.