Rutledge UMC gets a facelift, courtesy of congregation
By Kathryn Schiliro
There was goldenrod carpet.
At Rutledge United Methodist Church now, the carpet is green. And this is just the first of many changes to the church’s appearance in a very short period of time.
It took three weeks (two Sundays) and eight years of discussion, but Rutledge UMC looks like a completely different church – the choir loft has been opened up, the original hardwood floors resealed, the pews taken out and painted before being reinstalled (with an extra 4 inches between pews, much to the delight of many of the church’s long-legged members).
Old, green curtains were stripped down, and church member Runae Daws transformed the fabric into four banners that now hang behind the pulpit.
“We had a group of dedicated trustees and the support of the pastor,” church member Carol Altznauer said.
Constructed in 1951, the sole change made to the church since then has been the installation of stained glass windows in the early 1980s.
“This is the biggest renovation since then,” Pastor Randy Byrd, who has been at the church just over two years, said.
Local contractor Bruce Bryant, of RAB Homes, Inc., worked with the congregation on the renovation – from the carpet to the paint.
The previously white walls were painted with swatches of varying colors, and the votes of a very “passionate” congregation were taken at a congregational meeting. (The church’s Board of Trustees made the rest of the decisions.) In the end, what Byrd and Altznauer are calling “antique off-white” won, and the walls and ceiling were painted.
The entire project, all $23,000, was paid for by donations over the past 12 years as well as the sale of the Dixie Highway parsonage and interest from CDs.
A kind of “grand opening” the church held Homecoming services on Sept. 13, and 129 members and former members visited the facility.
“One woman who was married here 42 years ago said it was more like it originally was,” Byrd said.
In addition to the renovation of the sanctuary, the church bought the house next door in 2007 and has fixed it up to function as both a Fellowship Hall (prior to the purchase, the quite small basement of the church was being used in this manner) and an event venue. The purchase was made possible by the generous gift left by Mrs. Clyde Davis, a local teacher.
“She left a generous gift of stock earmarked for a Fellowship Hall,” Byrd said. “I think she’d be pleased.”
A work in progress, Rutledge UMC has already installed a walkway, rebuilt the porch and added a ramp, completed minor painting and redecorating and stripped the roof all the way to the rafters in order to install a new one. Paul Hensler has donated a table and chairs for the dining room, and the church purchased additional tables and chairs.
A four-month renovation process, the house (circa 1913) was dedicated to Mrs. Davis, who allowed the church to purchase the $289,000 property debt-free, on Nov. 30, 2008.
The money collected from Angel Food Ministries – a monthly food bank that allows people to purchase $65 worth of food for $30 – is going to further decorate the house. Orders are taken the second Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and can be picked up the following Saturday between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
As far as the house as an event venue, there has already been one wedding reception and three bridal showers in the house, which holds 108 people inside (with tables and chairs) and as many as 36 on the porch. The church has a buffet, but has plans to re-do the counters and update the kitchen for caterers.
Interested in renting the house? There is a charge of $200 for non-members and a $50 damage deposit; call Altznauer at (706) 557-0046 for more information.
Rutledge UMC, located at 136 E. Main Street in downtown Rutledge, welcomes all ages and people to Sunday School at 10 a.m. and worship at 11 a.m. each Sunday. The church can be reached at (706) 557-2483.