By Cindy Solomon

While summer 2022’s sizzle is just a steamy memory, members of Epworth UMC in Franklin, Tennessee, still feel grateful for the $8,000 ENCORE Ministry grant that helped them update the HVAC system for the sanctuary.

Earlier this year, members grappled with how to afford updating the church’s ineffective 18-year-old HVAC system. When that system was installed, all was well in the life of the church.

That changed over the last two years as the Epworth church family faced twin traumas: the COVID-19 pandemic and an exodus of members who left to form a non-denominational church.

“Both events hit our congregation hard and impacted attendance and financial giving. We who are left are United Methodist at heart and are seeking to rebuild our church from the ground up as a place of welcome and sanctuary for our neighbors,” said Epworth’s pastor, Rev. Dr. Angela Harris.

Updating the HVAC system was a significant burden. Thanks in part to the ENCORE Ministry grant, the church got the work done. While ensuring the comfort all who attend, the updated system is essential for senior adults who are sensitive to temperature extremes.

“Epworth’s members are grateful for the grant. It allows us to continue offering an inviting and comfortable sanctuary and meeting space for members and community guests alike. It also gives us a fresh wind of grace and encouragement that we are a connected church supported by our friends and neighbors throughout the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference,” Harris said.

Epworth member Nancy James also expressed the gratitude felt throughout the congregation.

“Since the new heating and cooling system has been completed, the Sunday church service and other activities have been much more accessible. With the extreme heat, it was difficult to maintain a good body temperature without a great HVAC system. I have thyroid disease in my ‘golden years’ — which is a challenge. This winter, I will be able to take my coat off and stay awhile. What a blessing the new system has been for our church family. Thank you!”