Davidson Presbyterian Church has made the first step to worshiping in a new building, nearly 70 years after its current sanctuary was finished.
The church at 214 Depot St. has submitted preliminary plans to build a new worship facility at its current location. Church members, town planning staff and other stakeholders, including representatives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission and the Charlotte Area Transit System, met Feb. 17 and Saturday, Feb. 19, for a planning workshop.
The church will use comments from the workshop while it develops a more detailed plan and site rendering. In the planning process, the church will hold another workshop in the future and the town planning board will evaluate the church’s plans.
The workshop is the first step in Davidson’s planning process, one the church has long been working towards, the Rev. Darrell Van Pelt, the church’s pastor, said.
“We’ve been talking about building a new facility for quite a while. It really goes back to at least the mid-80s,” Van Pelt said.
The church’s last pastor, Bryant Parker, who served in the mid-90s, laid the groundwork for building a new church, a place members plan to make more than just a place of worship. They have plans to start a day care and a senior ministry in the new buildings.
“We don’t want to just build a new facility to build a new facility,” Van Pelt said. “We hope to build to help expand our ministry. This church has a long history in this town, and so we want to build and expand on what we already do.”
At the workshop, Stewart Gray, a preservation planner with the Historic Landmarks Commission, asked the church to consider the historical value of the church building, which was constructed in 1942.
Van Pelt said his congregation would love to preserve the history of the church, especially the current sanctuary. They plan to hire a structural engineer to assess the sanctuary’s integrity.
“We have some structural issues with the building,” Van Pelt said. “When you’re a small church and you’re trying to keep something old standing, it can eat up a lot of your budget. Fortunately, we have a lot of handymen around to keep it up. That’s really the reason it’s standing now.”
If they have to tear it down, the church plans to incorporate some of its features, like the windows or pews, in the new building.
“A lot of it is going to depend on how financially viable it is to keep it up,” Van Pelt said. “We are a small congregation, and if we build a new facility, that alone financially would be a big responsibility for our church.”
The church has had a building fund for several years and soon will begin a capital campaign to raise more money. Also at the workshop, the Charlotte Area Transit System expressed interest in leasing some parking lot space from the church, which sits adjacent to the proposed Red Line extension. Van Pelt said that additional revenue could determine what it can or cannot build.
The church hopes to start construction on the new building within five years. But members know its not going to be a quick process, Van Pelt said.
“This church has already exercised a lot of patience, and we have plenty more,” he said.
In other Davidson news
The Davidson Town Board heard another report from town Planning Manager Lauren Blackburn on plans to rezone 130 acres on the north side of N.C. 73 between Ramah Church and McAuley roads from residential to employment campus, a designation that will allow for buildings that can support offices and light industry.
Commissioner Brian Jenest and Mayor Pro Tem Laurie Venzon were concerned about whether buildings are allowed between N.C. 73 and a planned parallel road. Blackburn said development in that area would be allowed, but commissioners can determine what those buildings will look like.