MT. COMFORT — Two years ago, Larry Longman and his family were looking for a new church. As they searched, the McCordsville resident and town councilman remembered how people from a particular church often showed up to volunteer at community events.
He remembered how the volunteers from Harvest Church loved their community but weren’t pushy, just welcoming, he said. So Longman, his wife, Jenn, and their two daughters began attending.
“It was a very loving place and full of a lot of familiar faces,” Longman said. “We just felt at home there.”
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Others could tell of finding a church home at Harvest. The church that began in October 2007, when 20 to 25 people from fellow Wesleyan churches began meeting at Geist Elementary School, has grown to an average Sunday attendance of more than 300, split between two morning services.
After moving from the elementary to Mt. Comfort Industrial Park, in the building where Freije Treatment Systems Inc. moved when it brought its headquarters to Hancock County, Harvest Church now meets a couple of parking lots south of there, at 6107 W. Airport Blvd. It began services there in July 2014, renting space it began to outgrow.
Lead Pastor Brad LeRoy said the first thought was to seek to rent a larger portion of the building, but after business minds in the church computed the cost of leasing more space, buying made more sense. So the church closed on the building in September for $2 million.
The church is opening its doors from 3 to 6 p.m. today for the community to stop by for food, tours and a chance to meet some of leaders of the church. The invitation is also open for services at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday.
The church’s purchase of the building left it with two renters, Candent Technologies to the west and Circle City Martial Arts and Fitness to the east. Sandwiched between them, the church has room to expand its children’s space, create a more inviting entrance, build a larger kitchen and make other changes.
LeRoy said one of the biggest changes will be the space available for children’s programming on Sunday mornings. A line of offices has been converted to larger rooms that will be classrooms, and a common area for children’s ministry will be farther from the adult worship space than it has been, thus avoiding noise overlap issues such as an energetic children’s activity going on while adults are listening to the morning message, or adult worship music in the background while children try to focus on their own lesson.
The common area near the children’s classrooms will have a kitchen nearby — one with a stove, one that’s larger than the kitchen/storage room once housed elsewhere in the building.
The common area is a space that could work for a wedding reception or a post-funeral dinner, LeRoy said.
The church renovation also includes a more centrally located entrance for the expanded space, one that’s a shorter walk from the parking lot.
Finally, a group of offices at the east end of what is now Harvest’s space needed few adaptions to be suitable for the church’s staff.
Longman said church staff have been nomadic for a long time, and the change “gives them a home where they can engage the community as well throughout the week.”
LeRoy’s office and a couple of others are next to where the congregation worships. Moving the offices makes it possible to knock out some walls later and open up more seating area for a growing congregation.
The work is being done in-house. Among the congregation are a residential concrete pourer and the owner of a painting company. Others with expertise have brought their talents; Longman, who does commercial construction for a living, installed some of the trim. A few designated work sessions offered other members without those types of know-how a chance to be involved by doing the jobs that required willing hands more than specific professional expertise.
There’s been no major plumbing project as part of the expansion, said Scott Beaty, the concrete pourer and a member of the church’s board of elders. Other than that, though, “we’ve just about hit every trade.”
Beaty has been heading up the project, which has required tearing down walls, removing a drop ceiling at the entrance, changing lighting, moving sprinkler systems, enlarging the rooms, framing walls, installing drywall, electrical work, and moving heating and cooling lines.
For Beaty and the painter to offer their expertise “is a testament to some guys who really believe in what’s happening here,” LeRoy said. “When they offered to do that, that was a huge, God-ordained blessing for our church.”
LeRoy is eager for the church’s youth and other programs that meet at the church, such as Celebrate Recovery and Young Life, to find a good fit in the renovated space. He’s eager to see what other community needs the church can meet, now that more room is available.
He’s also grateful for a site that has exceeded his expectations. It has interstate access that draws a regional base of worshipers from Greenfield, Lawrence, Indianapolis and even Greenwood. It also puts the church in good proximity to the McCordsville community it feels called to minister to.
“We’re getting more connection with the people we really felt God called us to reach,” LeRoy said. “We’ve become the church we were supposed to be all along.”
Harvest Church, 6107 W. Airport Blvd., is open for food and tours of its renovated space from 3 to 6 p.m. today. The church’s first services in the newly configured layout will be at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday.