By Cindy Solomon

A protective railing was installed between an overflow room and sanctuary at Monterey United Methodist Church. Thanks to a grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, this retrofitting project makes the church safer and more welcoming for all who attend.

Monterey United Methodist Church received a $1,300 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, a non-profit corporation and extension ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. Money from this grant was used to retrofit the sanctuary area with protective railing.

“Our church building is one of the original brick church structures in Monterey and, as such, many changes have occurred over the years,” said the Rev. Denna Hornby, pastor of Monterey UMC. “As needs evolved, parts of the structure were repurposed.”

For many years, the sanctuary area included an overflow room. Previously partitioned off from the sanctuary by large folding doors, the room was only used for special occasions such as weddings or funerals. Now, the overflow room is regularly used as a sanctuary extension. However, the floor level of the overflow room sits well above the sanctuary floor, creating a falling hazard.

“While the room was grandfathered in as far as applicable building codes,” said Hornby, “our aging congregation and the room’s regular use by both church and civic groups raised our awareness that a protective railing was needed between the two floor levels.”

That awareness quickly turned into action after an older adult congregation member fell from the overflow room onto the sanctuary floor. While thankfully the person was unhurt, the incident highlighted the church’s critical need for a railing. Thanks to a grant from the Golden Cross Foundation and matching donation from someone in the Monterey community, a railing fitting the vintage style of the sanctuary was installed.

“We are grateful for the security the new railing offers,” said Monterey UMC’s lay leader Marcy Milligan. “We are a church that welcomes many older visitors and we want our sanctuary to be a place of peace and safety as we worship. The railing offers protection from falls as we come together in God’s name.”

Hornby added, “We are thankful to the Golden Cross Foundation for helping to fund the railing that beautifies our sanctuary and provides a needed safety feature. Not only does it protect and benefit congregation members, but anyone from the community who comes for the food pantry, youth group, and civic meetings such as the garden club and Civitan.”