Fort Mill Times

Pleasant Hill plans major expansion

Just like the community surrounding it, Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church is growing.

In the past five years the church, located on Hwy. 160 East, is seeing a regular increase in its two Sunday morning services. Last week, the second service had 189 people attend. The sanctuary is able to seat between 200 and 210 people, according to Pastor Michael Ritter.

It's time to start planning for the future of the growing church, Ritter said.

WGM Design, a Charlotte-based firm, is working with the church to plan several phases of a large-scale expansion of the church. The first phase will include construction of a Christian Life Center, which will be built behind the existing fellowship hall.

The center will include a kitchen, gymnasium, a stage and seating for 300 people, as well as rooms for youth group events.

Ritter credits the church's attempts to reach out into the community. In the past year, the church has organized dozens of new programs for community and church members, including blood drives and Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Their largest recent endeavor is a preschool for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds that will open in the fall.

"We're reaching the community and that, in fact, drives the expansion," Ritter said.

"People don't realize what is going on in this little old country church. We still have that country feel, that country love, but we're growing."

The second, third and fourth phases of the planned expansion will include remodeling and updating buildings, plus building either a new sanctuary or education building, depending on what the need is, Ritter said.

The capital campaign for financing the project will begin soon, Ritter said. Although the economy is in a poor state to begin a capital campaign, Ritter said he is still confident that the time is right for expansion.

The church's building committee is working to select a general contractor and a company to help them run the capital financing campaign. Once those selections are made and pledges start coming in, Ritter said they can firm up timelines for each phase of the project.

He expects that the entire expansion won't be complete for at least 10 years.

"I have a feeling that is 10 years down the road, unless everything just falls into place," Ritter said.

"...It would cost $7.5 million, and unfortunately no one has come up with $7.5 million on our doorstep. But I'm still waiting. That would be a great thing."