First United Methodist Church in Bartlesville purchased 64 acres to replace a downtown location. Ambler Architects designed a facility to resonate with the aging congregation and speak to young families by using traditional forms in fresh ways.
WFM Staff · August 1, 2014
First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Bartlesville, Okla. was founded in 1895. With the turning of its second century, the Church Leadership recognized that the average age of the congregation was trending upward. It was time for a fresh look and to set the stage for a church renaissance.
The total church membership was 2,000, but average Sunday attendance was less than 400. That meant FUMC was one of the larger churches in town, but had run out of space in their location. The church consisted of 75,000 square feet of poorly arranged, multi-level space. FUMC knew that a new facility closer to new housing would help reach people of faith and others looking for answers to life’s tough questions.
The church purchased 64 acres to replace their one-acre downtown location. The land would enable the new church to be surrounded by nature and afford the opportunity for new and expanded programming.
FUMC engaged Ambler Architects to design a facility that would take advantage of its natural setting and be a beacon to the community.
New Building (First United Methodist Church McKinney)
Project Size: 301-800 seats
Completion Date: July 1, 2013
Ambler was faced with designing a facility that spoke to an aging congregation while also speaking to younger families. It developed a “Congregation Preference Survey” to help with the design. It met with the congregation and asked them to vote on 100 images of very modern churches, very traditional churches and everything in between. This survey provided Ambler Architects direction, but it also helped the congregation understand that they didn’t want a medieval or a modern structure. A fresh take on traditional building forms was in order.
The Methodist Church is built on tradition and FUMC believed that if was going to build a church, it should do so to the best of its ability. Church leaders believed that they were building to the glory of God and that there is value in the traditional forms of the buildings that embodied the original churches.
When the final building program was developed, it indicated 80,000 square feet was needed to meet the vision of the church. The budget for the first phase would only support a 40,000-square-foot building. Ambler Architects determined what was needed to house the worship and fellowship activities, licensed daycare center, staff offices and Sunday school.
Today, the Church sees 500 people on a typical Sunday and houses new programs, like the “Garden of Eatin,’” a program in which members grow food for the many outreach agencies in the community. The future is bright for FUMC as they continue to provide a welcoming place with open hearts, open minds and open doors.