Improving Accessibility for Murfreesboro First United Methodist Church

Murfreesboro First United Methodist Church | Dow Smith Company | Smyrna, Tennessee

The Dow Smith team recently completed a new addition at Murfreesboro First United Methodist Church (FUMC). Since moving into their current location more than 15 years ago, the congregation has experienced immense growth and fellowship in their community.

Sitting on 20 acres at 265 West Thompson Lane in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the church saw the need to make their campus accessible for all parishioners. FUMC’s Executive Director Fred Halfpap states that the church created a new master plan to identify “what we wanted to see in the future and what the church needed. We wanted to correct some of the things we didn’t get to do when we built [our original location].”

These improvements included the construction of a two-story connecting hallway, an outdoor columbarium, and indoor fellowship gathering space, as well as increased accessibility to a second-floor youth education room.

The existing facility did have an elevator, but it did not service the upstairs youth education space, limiting both volunteers and members from participating. The church’s main goal was to provide well-marked, handicapped access to the upper floors, all while “wanting to be sure anything added would blend with the existing structure,” explains Executive Director Fred Halfpap.

Murfreesboro First United Methodist Church | Dow Smith Company | Smyrna, Tennessee

As more families are now choosing cremation for their loved ones, the church saw the need for a designated space for cinerary urns. The outdoor columbarium offers the ministry a public, yet respectful resting place in lieu of cemetery burial.

This unique structure required a significant foundation, as well as elegant landscaping and exterior finishes. The congregation has requested this addition for some time and wanted it to be visible from multiple areas of the church. Parishioners can now view the remains through the windows of the administrative wing, in the new hallway addition, as well as in the columbarium itself. Landscaped gardens and benches will be installed at a later date.

Guests are guided by a new entrance off the existing parking lot, leading them into the new fellowship gathering space. The church’s traditional and modern worship services are held at the same time on Sundays. As they are leaving a worship service or Sunday School meeting, members are now able to enter the church’s Family Life Center without disturbing others.

The most challenging aspect of this project was maintaining a safe, clean jobsite while the church remained open seven days per week.

Murfreesboro First United Methodist Church | Dow Smith Company | Smyrna, Tennessee

Our work often involves managing construction while a space is occupied. Our team was constantly operating in a pedestrian area, especially while constructing the new entrance adjacent to the parking lot. Safety barriers, clear signage, and frequent job site visits from our third-party safety consultant, Fortier Loss Control Consultants, Inc., ensured patron safety above all else.  

The potential headaches that come with building an addition connecting to an existing facility required our team to closely supervise all aspects of construction, especially demolition, as well as maintain constant communication with FUMC. Thanks to Project Manager Joey Rhyne, Superintendent Joel Tellez, and Architect Tuck-Hinton, the project was a massive success and was completed in just a few months.

“We already had great experience working with Dow. And like we expected, they did a great job. Their communication with us was excellent. We met weekly with them and the architect to find out the progress and what’s next. In a very busy church like this one, it’s so important to know what’s going on so we can turn around and communicate with our congregation,” states Executive Director Fred Halfpap.

As Murfreesboro First United Methodist Church continues to evolve, its leaders work to ensure the facilities match the congregation’s needs. Dow Smith Company is thankful and proud to be a part of their growth.