Father Tom Dahlman is looking forward to people finally being able to find his church’s front door.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church in downtown Shawnee is building a new addition that will house children’s classes, offices, a new kitchen and a bigger parish hall. It will also have a new front door and parking lots, which Dahlman hopes will solve the age-old problem of visitors getting lost.
The long-awaited construction project, which will make more room for the church’s growing congregation, is based on plans from the 1940s, Dahlman said.
“Whenever they built this parish hall, they also had plans for the next phase drawn,” Dahlman said. “And they never had the money to do it until now.”
The new building will be 6,000 square feet, and its architectural style is designed to match that of the original church, which was built in the early 1900s. It will also be wheelchair-accessible, which will be helpful for the church’s wheelchair-bound members, Dahlman said.
Mike Adcock is a Shawnee native who has attended Emmanuel Episcopal Church for 40 years. His children are grown, but his three grandchildren will attend Sunday school classes in the new building when it is finished, he said.
Adcock said this is the first new building since he came to the church in the 1980s.
“Our parish has grown in the last year –– I’d say we’ve put on probably 15 to 25 percent new folks in that parish, so we need the room,” Adcock said. “We’re really bursting at the seams right now.”
During the school year, the church’s current parish hall building is occupied every weeknight, where community organizations from the local food co-op to the Girl Scouts use it for meetings.
The church’s current kitchen is also frequently in use –– members provide 60 meals per weekday to homeless people, Dahlman said.
“I’m not a great cook, but I use what comes out of that kitchen a lot,” Adcock said. “I know the men and women that do use that kitchen are going to be real happy to get that renovated.”
Construction began about four months ago, and the building’s projected completion date was originally Christmas. But because of recent rainy weather, Dahlman expects it to be delayed, he said.
The new building is funded by donations from members. The church is still $400,000 short, but decided the building was necessary anyway, Dahlman said.
“We just decided it was time to go out on faith a little bit,” Dahlman said. “If we have to borrow money at the end we will.”
Emmanuel Episcopal Church was founded in 1896 and its current location at 501 N. Broadway was built in 1909. It is best known for one of its stained glass windows, which is more than 100 years old and depicts a nativity scene.
Adcock said there will also be stained glass windows in the new building.
“We’ve got some of the most beautiful stained glass in town and it’s been a real benefit for people coming from all over to see our stained glass,” Adcock said. “And that brings them to Shawnee.”