WEDDINGTON – Church members and students at Weddington United Methodist Church and Weddington Christian Academy will soon see the expansion of existing programs and addition of new programs as the church works to accommodate for growth seen in recent years.
Weddington Christian currently offers basketball and volleyball, and the school will soon add baseball, softball and soccer to the mix, following the approval of the conditional zoning permit by the Weddington Town Council. The town approved the plan, which includes a total of 22 acres, on July 14 to include two soccer fields, one baseball and softball field, 192 additional parking spaces, a concessions area and restrooms.
Church members also will benefit from future additions with the introduction of more on-site intramural sports opportunities.
“Our sports ministry and youth ministry are both currently using off-site venues for activities like softball and ultimate Frisbee and this will allow the opportunity to bring some of those on campus,” Melissa McGill, Weddington UMC’s communications specialist, said in an email. “It also opens up possibilities for church-wide fellowship events and concerts. The vision for the fields is that they will be the church’s ‘backyard’ so to speak.”
The addition of these facilities will only be the beginning. The church recently added additional worship services, now with four on Sundays, to accommodate the increase in members, and soon may construct larger facilities if the congregation continues to expand.
“With growing attendance numbers in recent years, we have been battling space constraints for worship on Sunday mornings as well as adult education space for Sunday school, Bible studies and life groups on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings,” McGill said. “So far, our solution to this has been adding additional worship times.”
Weddington UMC first submitted plans to Weddington leaders that encompassed years of projects in many phases, but after hearing concerns from the town decided to focus on the most important objectives for the church.
“When (Weddington UMC) first came to the planning board, they were really looking at a long-term plan,” Mayor Bill Deter said. “It involved adding a couple of buildings, the athletic fields, a whole number of things. The planning board was concerned about not enough detail for something going up that far in the future, and giving blanket approval for something they might not put up for another 15 years.”
The church has discussed future growth, but will decide which direction to go later depending on growth in membership and participation in different programs, McGill said. Although town leaders did approve the conditional zoning permit, that wasn’t before working through some concerns voiced by town residents, staff and leaders.
Some concerns were “noise – both noise from the people at the fields to traffic noise (and) lights,” Deter said.
The current plans do not include lighting at the fields, and the plans would have to be approved by town council if the church decides in the future it would like to add lighting for evening events. Council also will have to approve construction plans for the recently approved permit before Weddington UMC begins work on the fields and other elements.