SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Clay Church, a "United Methodist Community of God's Love" in South Bend expanded its ministry in November and moved into a new second facility.
The church's original seven-acre south campus at 17646 Cleveland Road had no room to grow. The 1,300-member congregation expanded its facilities with a 20-acre north campus at 52866 North Ironwood located one-tenth of a mile north of its now south campus.
The new 35,000 square-foot north campus building doubled the church's space and is completely handicapped accessible. Clay built a raked floor sanctuary for better visibility and placed two projection screens on either side of the front. The choir loft is larger than the one at the older facility. The church also installed a theater lighting system, upgraded its sound system and installed pews to comfortably seat 600 participants.
Near the new building's front entrance, the church created a space for people to connect. It contains several small parlors with couches and a cafe that serves coffee, hot chocolate, juice and baked goods on Sunday mornings.
Clay's children's ministry has its own wing in the new building. The wing resembles the Main Street of a little town. Each room has a different storefront. Names of the stores include Gabriel's Daily News, Noah's Boat Rental and Jonah's Fish Market. The largest room is for the group worship and contains a stage.
The church plans to develop its campus grounds by putting in a garden, walking paths and two pavilions, as well as an outdoor picnic area for the community to use.
The original south campus houses Clay's Firehouse Youth Center for youth (grades 6- 12). It contains a gym, fellowship hall and large kitchen, spaces the new facility does not have.
Other plans for the youth center include a computer lab for homework, a coffee shop, a sand volleyball court and an athletic area. The church also plans to provide a couple of rooms at the youth center for outside community groups.
Clay's lead pastor is Dr. Herb Buwalda. The Rev. Kim Bloom serves as associate pastor. The church also has 12 program and 11 support staff members.
For more information about Clay Church, log on to www.claychurch.com.
This story was based on a longer story that appeared in The South Bend Tribune.