By Cindy Solomon

Currently, Clarkrange UMC members and guests have to navigate stairs to access the church’s Fellowship Hall. Thanks in part to a to a Golden Cross Foundation grant, a stair lift will be installed, increasing accessibility for older adults and anyone with mobility issues.

Clarkrange United Methodist Church received a grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, a ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. The grant was to buy a stair lift, thus increasing accessibility for older adults and anyone with mobility issues.

Currently, anyone wanting to attend a function in the Fellowship Hall has to navigate a set of stairs. Those unable to do so miss out on various church functions. The issue came to a head after a woman, unable to navigate the stairs, sat in her car outside of the church while her husband attended a dinner held after a funeral.

“At that point,” said Clarkrange member Jeanne Thomas, “we decided it was very necessary to buy and install a lift. Thanks in part to the $7,400 grant we received from the Golden Cross Foundation, both members of our church and community will have access to this multipurpose area.”

Unfortunately, installation was scheduled for the week after the stay-at-home orders were given by Governor Lee during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the coronavirus isn’t dampening member’s enthusiasm for the project.

“Many of our members say they are excited about it being installed — post pandemic — because they will be able to come to functions, stay longer, and enjoy the friendship,” said Thomas.

In addition to fellowship activities and meetings, Clarkrange is a designated FEMA disaster site. A 4H family and community education group meets monthly and Truth Youth Group meets weekly. Many wedding and baby showers and funeral luncheons are also hosted there.

“We look forward to the day when we will be able to carry on with these activities using our new lift so all can participate,” said Thomas.