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St. John’s United Methodist burns a mortgage, celebrates a milestone

February 18, 2019

There was an unusual addition to the 11 a.m. service at St. John’s United Methodist Church on Sunday in downtown Aiken.

Prior to the sermon, Rev. Tim McClendon dropped a smoking copy of a church mortgage into a bowl on the altar in celebration of the dedication of a variety of remodeled and new church buildings.

“It’s a lot more worshipful,” said McClendon, pointing out the sanctuary’s stained glass windows and brighter, cleaner pews. ”...And I’d also like to thank everybody that was a part of this.”

The dedication was the culmination of a 2013 Capital Campaign, which Director of Staff and Planning Harry Sampson said had several main objectives.

“One was to build our Faith Center for our contemporary worship service,” Sampson said. “The other was to renovate our sanctuary to make it more welcoming, and brighter, and so forth.”

Other goals of the Capital Campaign included renovations for the children’s playground, the church courtyard, and bus that shuttles churchgoers from their homes to worship services.

“They called the old bus the Elvis Presley bus because it shakes, rattles, and rolls,” Sampson joked.

All the goals of the 2013 Capital Campaign were accomplished recently, but the church ended up going above and beyond what they’d initially hoped to accomplish.

Improvements to security, alarm systems, sound and lighting systems were made in the buildings. A new bus was purchased in addition to refurbishing the old one. Other renovations were made to education and children’s programs, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated toward missions and mission programs.

In all, the purchases, improvements, and mission funds generated by St. John’s totaled at $5.6 million over the past six years, according to a church bulletin.

“We are blessed,” Sampson said. “A lot of churches struggle a long time with debt...every year sometimes it looks like we’re not going to make it...what we’ve learned over the past decade in this church is that people respond.”

The dedication on Sunday was done in recognition of the projects being paid in full. McClendon called up other members of various committees who helped make the fundraising, planning, and construction possible to be recognized as the corner of the mortgage copy was lit by a candle flame, concluding the ceremony.

St. John’s UMC is located at 104 Newberry Street NW.