For years, Janice and Willis Burnside operated a cider mill on their CR 19 property. Every autumn, members of Harmony United Methodist Church donated apples to be pressed and sold by the church's Youth Fellowship. The youth deposited the funds into a savings account.
The Burnsides had envisioned a building project at the church, but the money just kept accumulating, unused.
That changed in recent years when the church constructed a meeting hall to seat 210 people. The Youth Fellowship was able to pledge $35,000 to the project. A public open house has been set for 2-5 p.m. Saturday at 6487 S. CR 19.
The congregation of about 120 people conducted fundraisers and collections to complete the hall earlier this year.
"We've been working on this for four years," Janice said. "We have $210,000 in it, and it's all paid for."
Although the Burnsides no longer lead the youth group, Janice agreed to serve as chairman of the building committee for the addition. Her committee included Dwight Detterman, Dana Riedel and Phyllis Smith, who worked with the Rev. Dan Young to plan the project, raise funds and oversee the construction of the structure.
Janice said the process started early in 2003 when Harmony's Administrative Council appointed them to investigate the construction of a shelter house on the church property. When the estimates came in at $25,000-$30,000, the committee decided to explore other options, such as a pole building to use for storage.
That did not seem to fit their need.
"There are no facilities in the church for a kitchen or anything like that, so we could not have anything in there. We started a kids' club several years ago, and it keeps growing and growing," Janice said.
With the Sunday School rooms overflowing, and no other place to have meetings or dinners, the committee researched the cost of a 48- by 48-foot addition with a kitchen and bathrooms.
Those dimensions would not hold many people, so they decided on a building measuring 68- by 50 feet.
Dennis Walton, a member of the congregation who owns Structural Design Systems in Perrysburg, served as a consultant to the committee.
The project could not go forward unless a new septic system was included in the plans. For that, Dwight and Sandy Detterman donated two acres of their farmland adjacent to the church's existing grounds. Pledge cards were distributed in January 2006. The youth fellowship was able to pledge all the money from their cider sales.
"That was our hopes when we started the cider mill, to build a building like this. Then they could use the money from selling cider to pay the expenses of the building. It didn't work out that way, because they never got it built, but they pledged the $35,000, which was a big chunk." Janice said.
The church also had a number of benefits and inter-congregational competitions to raise the money.
The first one, in April 2006, was the "Pic-Nic Contest." The congregation was divided into two groups. The half that raised the smaller amount of cash had to throw a picnic for the other half.
Several times, they had "drive-thru" dinners. Tickets were sold in advance and the buyers presented the tickets when they picked up the carry-out dinners at the church.
Nov. 14, 2010, the church had a groundbreaking ceremony after the Sunday worship services. Clouse Construction started the project the next day. Dundore Plumbing and Clouse Electric also were involved. The plans were altered even after construction began.
For example, the indoor handicapped-accessible ramp initially was to be built out of wood, but the committee decided to use concrete instead.
Janice said she was surprised at the number of permits and inspections needed for various aspects of the project.
"The Lord saw us through it all," she said.
The exterior has low-maintenance cement board siding, a metal roof and windows the same size and shape as those in the church building. Brick veneer below the windows also coordinates with the church. A covered rear entrance at ground level also offers accessibility.
A church member's husband donated his time and materials to finish the walls. Walton made and donated several acoustical boards to reduce the noise and echoes from the hard surfaces. Another donor created a graphic pattern to paint and finish the concrete floor. Carpeting would have been an added expense.
"It cost about $8,000 to carpet this with the new-style carpeting that's stain-proof and tear-proof," Willis said. "He did a terrific job. You can't imagine all the time and work how many coats of paint is on it. He picked out the design himself. ... The same person helped us put all the tile down in the bathrooms, kitchen and entryway."
Cupboards and cabinets came from the Habitat Restore shop in Findlay.
Church families donated appliances, a piano and artwork.
Walton insisted on Nu-Wool insulation for the structure. Janice said the material added some expense to the construction, but it should keep down energy costs.
"Somebody told us we could probably heat this place with a candle," Willis said. "Or maybe two candles."
The dedication took place Feb. 12. The district superintendent came for the ceremony and the congregation had its first potluck dinner in the new hall. Since then, graduation parties, a funeral dinner and a wedding reception have taken place in the hall.
The congregation appreciated the new air conditioning with the recent heat wave. The church has oil furnaces and no air conditioning.
Now, the congregation can meet in the hall, if the temperatures get too uncomfortable.
The Burnsides said more needs to be done, such as hooking up downspouts, paving the parking lot and building a retention pond. A picnic shelter could be added at some point. Inside, the committee hopes to finish the public address system and install a big screen for movies and slide shows.
During the open house, a DVD is to project images from the construction process for members and guests to see.
The space is to be available for rentals, as well as for meetings of the missionary society, youth fellowship and other groups. The Ladies' Aid already has plans to use the hall Aug. 4.
"The Ladies' Aid always has a lawn fete over at the parsonage (across from the church) the first Saturday in August. So instead, they're going to call it a 'church social' and have it in here, which will be much nicer for them and everybody else," Janice said.