WEST MANCHESTER — Ware’s Chapel United Methodist Church hosted a grand opening for its new 1,500-square-foot “greenhouse” on Sunday, April 25. The recent addition to the chapel’s facility at 1060 Foos Rd will house classrooms for adults and children, a Sunday school, and a new location for the Monroe Township Food Bank.
The project, funded primarily by donations from church members, broke ground in May 2020, according to pastor Kenneth Stewart. Construction was completed in March.
“The miracle is that it was all done during the pandemic,” Stewart said of the construction. “Out of 140 Methodist churches, we’re the only one that did any kind of building.”
The chapel kept going during COVID-19, according to Stewart, by holding virtual gatherings and, later, “parking lot worship” until in-person meetings resumed last fall.
“And then we did two gatherings instead of one, to respect social distancing,” Stewart said. “I’m proud of how we continued to move forward with our vision when the world stopped.”
Part of that vision involves focusing on accessible for the chapel’s members.
“We feel like there’s a big need in our community,” Stewart said of the services offered at the Greenhouse.
The food bank and Sunday school were previously housed in the chapel’s basement, according to Stewart, which he feels didn’t necessarily send a message that charity and children’s ministry were the church’s priorities.
“Now everything’s accessible,” Stewart said of the new above-ground food bank location. “Clients can come in, grab a grocery cart, grab their own groceries, and always be greeted by a warm, welcoming staff member.”
Stewart also stressed the church’s focus on children’s ministry.
“We have a great relationship with National Trail, so I’ve gotten to know a lot of families,” Stewart said. “And a lot of them don’t go to church because there aren’t a lot of options for children.”
Stewart’s goal is to eventually offer daycare services and even a pre-school at the chapel.
“There’s a big need for reputable daycare in our community, especially in rural areas,” Stewart said.
Stewart grew up in Arcanum and graduated from Faith Christian School in Greenville. He later attended seminary in Pennsylvania where he stayed for his first two churches before returning to Ohio. He took over as pastor for Ware’s Chapel two years ago.
Stewart said that the name Greenhouse was not chosen lightly.
“We see it as a place where faith is planted, like a seed – growing and maturing into something life-giving,” Stewart said. “Most seeds are planted to produce some kind of fruit, and faith is planted, takes root, builds up, and nurtures.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish