Garfield Memorial United Methodist Church in Pepper Pike, Ohio, had a growing community. That shouldn’t be a problem, but it was. Similar to a city growing haphazardly to the point where it’s almost not navigable, the building had been expanded over time, leaving a central enclosed courtyard with no obvious entrance and a series of narrow hallways that restricted traffic flow and led to several undersized foyers.

Garfield Memorial UMC Church’s growing community included three very distinct and successful worship services each Sunday morning. The worship spaces had room to expand but because of the church’s layout and those “mouse in a maze” hallways, the people from the different services never saw each other or got together to become one multicultural community. Since this was a critical part of their church’s vision, they recognized it was time for a serious church remodeling project.





Using the Design/Build Concept

This is where The McKnight Group came in. With our understanding of their vision for a single, connected multicultural community, we were able to create a church design that met those needs, and a church remodeling project that literally brought the community together. We constructed an obvious main entrance so that it’s clear to a first-time visitor coming on the property, “Hey, this is where I’m supposed to go in.” The entrance leads directly into a beautiful, spacious new lobby, which is the hub of the church complex and where all the attendees of any of the services can enjoy fellowship.

Creating a lobby that felt welcoming to people from all three of those very different worshipping styles was a challenge. We think the results are spectacular — we constructed something that is impressive, has a high “wow” effect, and is relevant to all of those different attendees, as well as those the church is trying to reach. We also included a full-service café to help visitors feel at home and provide an atmosphere that encourages people to linger for coffee and conversation.

To be cost-effective, we used every square inch of the existing facility to create the new design. This included retooling the existing space to create a second sizable lobby that offers an immediate entrance into the more traditional worship space. Doing so kept the new building’s square footage to a minimum and also controlled costs.

Ensuring Child Safety as Well as Traffic Flow

Another issue at Garfield Memorial UMC was a dated children’s space that lacked security, felt significantly removed from the adult worship spaces, and was not air-conditioned. In order to be welcoming to the young families in the area, church leaders recognized the need for a church remodeling design that addressed those issues. Our solution was to design the lobby so it has a secure children’s check-in that safely accesses all of the newly remodeled children’s areas, including classrooms, nurseries and a new children’s theater for children’s church.

What Is Your Church Remodeling Dilemma?

Garfield Memorial UMC now has a beautiful, workable, connected space for all its ministries — and without breaking the budget with an entirely new building complex. So what’s your church’s dilemma? What traffic patterns do you need to solve? What community connections do you need to make?

We’re curious what you need help with. Contribute suggestions and dilemmas to us and we may cover them in our free i3 webinar series for 2015. Contact us today at or 800-625-6448 with your church remodeling issues and topic suggestions!