Home > Sanctuary Updates

Sanctuary Updates

Highland is beginning construction work in the sanctuary in January 2021. The main work consists of expanding the chancel steps and replacing floor coverings throughout the sanctuary. The proposed changes are all to enhance the worship experience in the sanctuary, though they will also enhance weddings, concerts, musical performances, and community gatherings. Highland’s Trustees approved the work at their December meeting and a generous grant from the Endowment Committee will fund the materials and construction (an estimated $40,712).

The top step of the chancel area (in front of the communion rail) will be expanded from three feet deep to six feet deep, with the steps expanded to two feet deep each. This will include two sets of steps with double handrails for improved access to the communion rails. Existing carpet will be replaced and the flooring in the entire chancel area up to the front pew will be replaced with LVT (a laminate flooring that looks like hardwood). Changes will not affect the lectern, pulpit, altar, or choir loft. The first two rows of pews will be removed and the front modesty rail moved back accordingly. We will also expand the area being served by the hearing loop to include the full center and right pew sections.

The changes have several benefits: improved handicap access to the chancel area; larger chancel area for musical performances and corporate acts of worship; improved access to the ramp in front of the choir loft; replacing carpeting approaching 25 years old; upgrading the chancel to flooring that will prevent stains from communion elements and function better for acoustics.

The design work was completed by Lay Leader Ryan Lockett and the step construction will be completed Bob, the same gentleman who did such beautiful woodwork building the new stage in Bradley Hall. Highland’s staff and Trustees agreed that this is an ideal time to undertake such disruptive work while the space is not required for weekly worship services. We look forward to having the work completed when we area able to resume in-person services.

Many thanks to folks who gave expertise and generous use of their time to plan this project: Tom Lamb, Kevin Quick, Ryan Lockett, David Beam, Gail Flowers, Earleen Barnes, and Debbie Carroll.

Canopy Steal Repairs

Highland has a wonderful outdoor canopy that connects the Handbell Room, the education wing and the door near the organ to the outside entrance at the receptionist desk near the Conference Room. The canopy ties together the building and makes going from one area to another very efficient. This canopy was constructed 27 years ago when Bradley Hall was built. The canopy is exposed to the elements and is open to the courtyard on at least one side. Often when it rains some rain will blow into the canopy and collect on the walkway. That water should roll off and exit through some weep holes.

In a few areas the water hasn’t exited properly, got trapped behind the weep holes, and found its way down to the steel that supports the canopy. Thankfully, the steel is fine but some of the lentils that supported the brick were badly rusted and the brick was in danger of falling off those rusted lentils.

We hired a structural engineer to examine the situation. His first recommendation was to remove the brick in a few select areas to examine the steel. We removed the brick that sat on the rusted lentils and had the structural engineer re-examine the steel and lentils with the brick off. He said things weren’t as bad as he feared. He wrote up a report citing: several steel lentils that need to be replaced, the exposed steel needs to be treated, the water proofing needs to be improved, and the brick needs to be properly reinstalled.

We decided that while this work was being done, we would also treat and repaint the rusted window lentils on Bradley Hall (which are also 27 years old). Several bids were submitted for the work ranging from $20,268 to $35,000. The Trustees approved the lowest bid, not just because it was the best price but because it involved people we have worked with previously. Bobby Gregory will be doing the steel and welding work. CertaPro Painters will be doing the rust treatment and painting. Oak City Masonry will be doing the brick work. We are very delighted to work with these three vendors again! All three have done previous high-quality work for HUMC.

We are especially blessed that the Endowment Committee had the funds to cover the entire cost of these repairs and voted to underwrite the cost of this work. The Trustees annual maintenance budget cannot handle a $20,000+ repair. Without the Endowment Committee funding, this project would have been put off for an indefinite period of time while we tried to figure out how to fund it. The steel for the lentils has been ordered and we anticipate these repairs will begin shortly.

Thank you to Irv Pearce and Ryan Lockett for looking at the project and recommending the structural engineer. Thank you to Mike Horn for recognizing the need to prioritize this work. Thank you to the Trustees for weighing the options on making these repairs. Thank you to the Endowment Committee for funding these repairs. Thank you to our congregation for building this structure and making sure the Endowment has the funds to make repairs like this when the need arises. Highland has been truly blessed yet again by having an endowment that is able to fund capital repairs.

~ Written by Facilities Manager Tom Lamb