Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Methodist Church Has a Whole New Look Inside

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Methodist Church Has a Whole New Look Inside

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

You can't tell from the outside.

But get inside the 37-year-old sanctuary at Mandarin United Methodist Church and it's a whole new world.

New hardwood and stone floors grace the place where its 2,000-plus members worship each week. New accent lighting glows off the original brick walls and new white frames on the stained glass windows, and the pews are brand new.

In fact, says Senior Pastor David Brazelton, the only thing most people recognized when the 450-seat sanctuary was filled with almost twice that number for its dedication July 31 was the original cross over the altar.

"When people came in, it was just a big buzz with everyone talking," Brazelton said. "They were so excited. We never heard a negative. There is nothing to remind them of the old sanctuary but the cross. It doesn't look like it did."

Mandarin United Methodist Church was founded in 1874, moving to its current location at 11270 San Jose Blvd. in the late 1960s. The large campus, known for a pumpkin patch that sells pumpkins, dried corn and other ornaments in October, includes an administration and classroom facility, interlocking music and study room wings, the Learning Ladders Preschool and the brick sanctuary building.

Brazelton said the sanctuary has had some refurbishing over the years. But when a committee was formed two years ago to look at the entire church's needs, fully renovating the sanctuary was one of the priorities along with paying off the mortgage on the parsonage and some church property, and repairing building roofs. And before any work could be done, the members had to do their part.

"If God was really good, extra money could be brought in not only to modify but totally change the sanctuary interior," he said. "We were not asking for pledges. We needed $250,000 to come in on a Sunday. We raised $240,000 on one Sunday, and some drifted in after that."

The mortgages were paid, the roofing done, then a designer was hired to renovate the sanctuary. Work began after Memorial Day and finished just before the dedication. New chandeliers and accent lighting was added to relieve what Brazelton called a "dark" sanctuary. …

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