St. George Episcopal Church in La Cañada is undergoing construction on new patio areas and a prayer garden that church officials hope will add more greenery to and refresh the face of the campus.
It is hoped that the remodel will make the campus more inviting, both for church parishioners and visitors.
The church's coffee hour, a staple of post-Sunday services at St. George's, will also benefit from the improvement.
“This [coffee hour] area is going to be improved for serving things at the church,” said church librarian Joyce Davison.
Construction will take place mostly on the church's west side, where St. George's main offices are located. A stage facing the lawn will also be added for concerts. And font will also be installed, according to parish administrator Anthony Keller. While no construction will take place inside the sanctuary itself, a shade structure will be built in front of the present structure. A bulletin board will be placed on the structure to announce church events. (The last time the sanctuary was remodeled was in 2001, when pews were replaced by wooden chairs and markers for each station of the cross were updated, according to Davison.) The church's grassy area directly in front of the main chuch will be landscaped, and its decades-old bell tower will be moved just across the sidewalk from where from it is now to make room for the shade structure.
“Obviously the open space is very important for the kids and different programs,” said Davison.
The decision to improve the church grounds came on the heels of the recently celebrated 50th anniversary of St. George, although discussions to remodel the church grounds were taking place about a year prior, Davison said. Davison calls the renovation a “gift the church gave to itself,” and to future generations.
According to St. George Pastor Amy Pringle, other ideas for renovations included upgrades to the inside of the church and a project which would have moved the parish hall; the latter idea, which would have been a massive project, was quickly abandoned, said Pringle.
“This is sort of a 'cheer church,'” Pringle said in a telephone interview. “People do stay and chat with each other after church. It's a kind, warm and loving fellowship. This will want to make people want to come and make people want to stay.”
The cost of the project is estimated at $200,000, said Pringle, with half of the money raised through funds in honor of the church's 50th anniversary. Additional financial support was made possible through endowments and four major private donations.
“I think it adds some real nice elements to the front of the church,” said Keller. Keller says that with the addition of a stage, he hopes more concerts will be offered to the community.
Construction is expcted to take place all summer, with a grand reopening scheduled for October.