Lake Norman & Mooresville

Triplett UMC has big plans for new expansion

About 10 years ago, members of Triplett United Methodist Church in Mooresville began to dream about what it would be like if their church had more space.

They would have enough room for large meetings.

Some remembered the long power outages after Hurricane Hugo: Triplett UMC could have facilities for people to stay in case of a catastrophe.

They could host community gatherings and events.

They could house youth groups and mission teams needing overnight accommodations.

“We’re growing and we need additional space, not only for our immediate church members’ needs, but also in the community,” said church member Jim Murdock.

Over the years, the church has held meetings, looked at plans and raised money for a $2.4 million building project that broke ground in August. The new Christian life and missions buildings, two structures that will total about 23,000 square feet, should be finished in about a year.

Triplett UMC, on Mazeppa Road, struggled with lack of space for many years, whether it’s too little storage or having back-to-back church events in the same space, leaving no time for people to linger and socialize afterward.

The church also shares its space with its day care center, and hosting an event in the church fellowship area during the week means moving the day care equipment out first.

To raise money, the church oversaw a capital campaign in 2009 that raised about $500,000. Leaders were pleased with the outcome, especially during an economic downturn, but they needed more to start building.

Recently the church received donations totaling $750,000 from the estate of Helen Oliphant and from church member Charles Berg, which church leaders say gave them enough to move forward on the project. An official church-wide vote yielded only one “nay,” and the church’s leaders approved the Sunday groundbreaking.

Triplett UMC has about 450 people on its membership role, and an average Sunday attendance of about 200, said Murdock said.

The 10-year wait to start construction has allowed the church to refine its plans to fit its budget and needs.

Original designs were revised in 2012 after the first capital campaign ended. Building committee members did more research and visited several churches with Christian life centers, and they decided to use a concept similar to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church on N.C. 801 North.

The Christian life center will include a large activity room that can seat 280 people and will have a stage and industrial kitchen. The building also will have office and classroom space and storage areas.

The church’s new activity building will include a gym with full-size volleyball and basketball courts, a room for the church’s youth group and storage rooms.

The prospect of more space already is prompting dreams of new ministries, such as offering a place for students at nearby Mitchell Community College to meet up and for lunches for people in the community who are out of work.

“The sky is going to be the limit,” said Harold McDougall, chairman of the church’s building committee. “It’s going to open up a lot of avenues for us to do a lot of things for the community.”

Change already is underway at Triplett UMC. The Rev. Rick Auten recently became the new senior pastor, and they’ve seen an increase in attendance in the past month.

“We think it’s growing, and we think this is the right time frame to do this,” Murdock said.