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Solomon Awards 2019 – Central United Methodist Church (Church Sanctuary Design (Non AVL technology focused) Traditional and Contemporary)

The history of Central United Methodist Church dates back to the Louisiana Purchase, before Arkansas even became a state. Originally founded by 16 adults who met as a congregation in a log cabin, Central United Methodist Church has been a prominent part of Fayetteville’s history and landscape. With a long-standing presence on Dickson Street leading into the meandering campus of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the challenge for this project was to modernize the campus to attract new demographics, while maintaining a balance with the history and original touches of the founding church.

HH Architects developed a comprehensive Master Plan to begin resetting the church’s image in the community, including the development of a new contemporary Worship Center and Commons Connection Space. The Master Plan also designed for a new Education building (Preschool-Children) to serve the growing needs of young families and a commons space to connect the existing main buildings on campus, providing much needed gathering spaces for fellowship.

Due to the heritage behind Central United Methodist Church’s ministry, creating a timeless Worship Center that is still able to meet the expectations of today was a number one priority of the church and the Design Team. This Phase One, 55,000 square foot portion of the project was achieved by opening up the sanctuary and chancel to allow for more participatory worship within the congregation.

By opening the space up, better visibility and sight lines were created allowing the ministry to feel more unified in their fellowship together. With enhanced modern lighting and improved accessibility and flow throughout the sanctuary, the space was able to achieve the goal of today’s standards. Central United Methodist Church was also able to honor their history by adding a new organ and highlighting historic references including Plantation-style shutters, wood flooring, and new finishes throughout their sanctuary. Also included in this phase, was a back-of-house renovation consisting of choral rehearsal areas and storage, a parlor, new restrooms, and administration spaces.

Through its long and storied history, Central United Methodist Church has experienced many changes and grown tremendously from its modest, original congregation of 16 members. Having had over 52 senior pastors, and numerous buildings, the church has a current congregation of over 4,700. Now with its contemporary, yet historic sanctuary, Central United Methodist Church is able to reach many generations to come.

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