The church at the corner of Avery and Washington Streets started Thursday morning just has it had so many mornings before. The small church, with its white siding, has been a fixture in the community for most of the 95 years that the Lowell Church of the Nazarene has been in existence.
However, by mid-morning, it was a different scene as workers from across the state descended on the church to give it what its pastor describes as an extreme makeover. By the time Sunday rolled around, the church was sporting a fresh color, new landscaping and a renovated sanctuary. Pastor Mark Hardy says he hopes the renovation will be an outward sign of the growing and revitalized congregation within.
Building With a Rich History
According to records compiled online, the Lowell Church of the Nazarene was organized in 1923 and apparently first met in a building on Broadway Street. In the following year, the property at the corner of Avery and Washington Streets was purchased, and a residence there was remodeled for use as a church and parsonage.
The current building came to Lowell in the early 1930s. It had started its life “up north” – Hardy isn’t sure exactly where – as a Methodist church. “They took it apart and put it on a horse and buggy,” Hardy says of the building’s transport to Lowell.
Originally, the church was smaller and had a sanctuary facing Avery Street. In the 1950s or 60s, a renovation enlarged the worship space and turned the sanctuary to face Washington Street, which is the current configuration. The last major update to the building was completed sometime in the 1970s, by Hardy’s estimates, although there was some work done in 2013 to address damage from the flooding of that year.
New Pastor, New Look
Hardy arrived just after Christmas 2017 to take over leadership of the Lowell church. He came from Cape May, New Jersey and had previously served in churches in New England,
During his first week in Lowell, only 21 people attended the Sunday service. Now, anywhere from 45-60 show up on the weekend, and Hardy is hoping to continue to grow the congregation. To reflect the renewal occurring inside as well as address safety concerns and maintenance needs, the new pastor thought an extreme makeover of the building might be in order.
“I called my brother and said, let’s make it happen,” Hardy says. His brother, Kevin Hardy, is the district superintendent of the Michigan District Church of the Nazarene. The district includes 70 churches and covers an area that includes Saginaw, Jackson, Holland and Grand Rapids.
Pastor Hardy of Lowell had previously participated in five extreme makeovers in the Philadelphia District Church of the Nazarene and knew of their potential to quickly transform old buildings. His brother sent out the word to the Michigan district to request help, and at least 75 people showed up each day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to update and improve the Lowell church.
In total, 96 separate jobs were completed during the weekend including:
- Pouring new cement steps and walkways
- Updating the electrical system
- Running new sound wires
- Installing new drywall
- Painting the building
- Laying new flooring
While the extreme makeover weekend is done, more is yet to come for the Lowell Church of the Nazarene. Ryan’s Excavating will be redoing the parking lot, and a $9,500 grant from the Oldham Little Church Foundation is making it possible to replace all the sanctuary windows.
Contemporary Christian Message
For those not familiar with the Church of the Nazarene, Hardy says it is theologically similar to the Methodist and Wesleyan denominations. The church’s doctrine is based off the teaching of John Wesley, a prominent 18th Century English minister.
Sunday services at the Lowell Church of the Nazarene are held at 10:30am. Hardy says the service features mixed music and a contemporary message to help people apply Biblical teachings to modern life. For instance, this past Sunday, he used the board game of Sorry to illustrate the lesson being taught.
In addition to Sunday services, there is a Wednesday service at 7pm. At that same time, there is a Blaze Youth Ministry for teens.
Hardy hopes people will stop by to see the newly renovated worship space and gleaming grey siding, but be aware there is more to the Lowell Church of the Nazarene than that. Inside, there is a growing community of believers ready to welcome others into their family of faith.
To learn more about the Lowell Church of the Nazarene and see additional photos from their Extreme Makeover, visit their Facebook page.