Facilities & Beyond: Mont Belvieu UMC Focuses on the Future
Leaders are prepping their campus and congregation for the growth projected in the Mont Belvieu area.
Stewardship is not just about raising money. Many believe it is less about giving and more about taking care of what has been given – whether that’s possessions, people or facilities. In fact, the word translated as “entrusted” in the NIV version of the Bible is used 55 times.
Some years ago, like many congregations, Mont Belvieu UMC was able to pay their apportionments and stay in their budget but they needed a plan to address a worn out campus. In recent years, Rev. Jamie Lea, has been building a vision called Fulfilling the Dream to establish a bigger church presence in the fast-growing Mt. Belvieu area. “For years we’ve had a quiet, rural setting but with the Conoco and Exxon expansions within five miles of our campus, our community is growing by leaps and bounds,” he says. “We’ve been kicking around ideas for almost 10 years but now we are experiencing exponentially growth and a plan of action is emerging.”
He adds, “Attendance is running about 170, up from 130 in years’ past, so we are in dire need of more space. Churches this old were not built with expansion in mind so we have had to face some hard realities. Having the Small Wonders Christian Academy on our campus also gives us a different perspective on the future.”
Dr. Jesse Brannen, Director of the Center for Congregational Excellence, offered to do a “Joe Public” facility audit by driving up and reporting what he noticed. “After a while, we don’t see what a visitor would notice. Most were pretty quick fixes ranging from insufficient signage to stains, worn carpet and furniture. It was a good reminder that it is helpful to have others critique your campus with fresh eyes from time to time.”
Longtime member and membership secretary Janelle Harvey has been instrumental in planning and offering encouragement along the way. “I have been a member since 1966, seeing the church grow from the little white chapel on ‘The Hill’—the school district and original community are known as ‘Barbers Hill’—to the 375-member congregation that it is today,” she shares. “One of our mission goals is Helping: Be a positive influence in our community by serving God in a way that touches our members, our community, and the world. My observation is that a strong emphasis on this goal, particularly in community outreach, has played a major role in our growth and evolvement into a vibrant, active membership.”
There is much work to be done, but the congregation is on board and the action plan is underway to research renovation and expansion without incurring major debt. “Even though we have a 138-year-old church we are praying that, by Fulfilling the Dream, Mt. Belvieu UMC’s best years are just ahead. When the church comes together to build God’s Kingdom, well, it’s a beautiful thing.”