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"Evidence of God's working'

"Evidence of God's working'

June 23rd, 2013 in News
Greg Renfrow, of Extreme Painting and Wallpapering, applies finishing touches to the sanctuary's window frame. Construction of the new Quinn A.M.E. Chapel on Lafayette Street is nearing completion.

What initially sounded like heartache, through faith, became a blessing.

Nearly a decade ago when talk of a Whitton Expressway interchange at Lafayette Street began in earnest, the congregation at Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church repeatedly heard concepts requiring its relocation.

After having been moved once already because of highway development, the congregation at first was dismayed and saw history repeating itself.

As time progressed, the intended access to the Missouri State Penitentiary site received funding. The threat became a reality.

But within the negotiation for the land, a slim chance became a miracle.

One of a handful of remnants of a once vibrant commercial center known as "The Foot" during segregation, the church's greatest desire was to remain within the Lincoln University neighborhood.

Providence provided a larger lot only a block north on Lafayette Street. And, unlike the first time, the church did not face the same time and financial burdens.

Just a year after the groundbreaking, the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. congregation will move into a more modern facility, better equipped to meet the needs of its aging members, as well as a new generation.

The new construction has been a common topic for members. But this past week before they officially relocate June 30, Gould has encouraged leaders and members to share their memories, too.

"The close proximity makes tangible the evidence of God's working," Gould said.

During the past year, the church has enjoyed a nearly 25 percent attendance increase, said the Rev. Cassandra Gould.

"I knew people would be happy, but the enthusiasm has been more than I imagined," she said.

The excitement for what new ministry opportunities may come with the new building, already has recruited additional Sunday School teachers and youth volunteers.

And new programs are ready to go, including the Seasoned Saints for those older than 50, which had its kickoff in March.

They will begin serving a monthly community dinner July 26. And this fall, a job-readiness program will be hosted there.

A patio space will accommodate the men's barbecue fellowships and fundraisers. And the women's quarterly ministry will not have to schedule around borrowed community room calendars.

"We will be in our own space," Gould said proudly.

The building's footprint isn't much larger than its predecessor. But they have "maximized the space," Gould said.

Accessibility and paved parking are totally new, as are meeting rooms.

In the past, the sanctuary was used for business meetings, choir rehearsals and a single Sunday School classroom.

In the future, youths will have their own classroom, and multiple Sunday School classes will be offered for adults. And the choir may rehearse in peace at the same time as a committee meeting.

The sacristy will have its own, sacred space. And Gould will have a modest office.

"We are prepared for growth," she said.