By MARINA WATERS
Jonesborough United Methodist Church is ready to serve the community — but first they need a little help.
The church is prepared to renovate the small white church building located on 2nd Avenue in Jonesborough to better serve not only church programs and services, but to also serve the community and various local groups.
“We felt like we weren’t using this building to its fullest potential, so we feel like that’s what we need to do,” Bobby Shipley, a Jonesborough UMC member, said. “The town and the community has been very nice to us as a church, so why keep this to ourselves? This is something the community can use.”
The building, which served as a livery stable into the early 1900s and has since served as a church, currently has a large fellowship hall, a stage, various rooms and two small bathrooms that need renovations.
“We are looking at making the space even more usable,’’ Jonesborough UMC Pastor Karen Lane said. “That stage will come out. There is a baptismal pool that needs to come out for safety reasons. Right now, the bathrooms are so tiny … They will become handicap-accessible bathrooms.
“One of the big things for this building is that it is already handicap accessible right through that front door. That allows us to reach a lot more people.”
The church is looking to make the space one that could provide room for groups such as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the Quilter’s Guild, The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre and other local groups who often utilize the church’s other buildings. Lane also said she wants to see the space house missionaries and serve families in need of a place to stay.
“Some of the things we’ve talked about is to be able to help kids with reading,” Lane said. “We have talked about the ability to work with recovery ministry. We have talked about hosting mission teams and putting in showers. We are a Family Promise host church, so if a family comes, this will give them a much nicer place to stay than in our Sunday school rooms. That affords us to have them, but also have our programming at the same time.”
Last spring the church was prepared to begin fundraising in order to renovate the building, which is located at the end of the Methodist church’s parking lot. But Carolyn Tomko, a church member and chief fundraiser, was tasked with organizing those fundraising efforts on the same day the church closed its facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It brought us to a screeching halt,” Tomko said. “We worked with an architect for over two years and a strategic planner to throw out ideas. I was asked to do fundraising the day they shut down all facilities here. That just burst my bubble. But my bubble is now full again.”
The church is now looking to raise $80,000 for the renovations through donations and fundraising events, such as a cookout with live entertainment set for May 22 in the church parking lot. The church will also offer a brick memorial option to help raise funds for the renovations while also honoring loved ones with an engraved brick.
“We hope people in the community who already partner with us may want to be a part of getting this off the ground,” Lane said.
The church is also looking for physical help as it gears up to remove parts of the building as well paint and renovate the building.
“Anyone with expertise (is welcome) — plumbing expertise, electrical expertise,” Lane said. “If anyone wants to come give us a couple of hours of time, we would take it. If someone wants to paint, at some point we’re going to have to rip up this carpet. Skills, labor would be phenomenal.”
Mostly, the church is looking forward to helping and serving the community.
“As part of the United Methodist Church, one of the most important things to us is serving the community,” Lane said. “We are all about being servants and making sure we are doing the hands and the feet-work of God. That is what we do best in my opinion. And being able to serve the community in the way they need it then allows you the opportunity then to go on and share Jesus. It opens up this opportunity for us to be a partnership.”
In addition to its outreach and ministry efforts, Lane said she also looks forward to seeing the community come together — which, in the end, benefits everyone.
“The Quilt Guild meets in our other building and they sold almost $4,000 in table runners at the Storytelling Festival last year,” Lane said, “and they ended up donating that to the (Jonesborough Area Ministerial Association) Food Pantry, which we are actively a part of. So it comes back. When the community works together everyone wins.”
For more information or to donate, call (423) 753-3942 or visit the church’s website at