Cornerstone church breaks ground on million-dollar addition
The Rev. Stuart Szmaciasz leads the congregation in song as they leave Cornerstone Community Church for the groundbreaking for the new addition. Behind him are Dustin Wilds playing guitar, and members of the praise team Nadine Hinton and Tracy Rowe. See tnonline.com for a video of the ceremony. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO.
In 1996, 13 people gathered to form a church in the West End of Monroe County. They met in homes, the West End fire hall and a rented storefront before constructing a building on the corner of HTY and Polk Township roads. Twenty-nine people attended the first service.
Now the congregation of Cornerstone Community Church averages nearly 240 a week.
On Sunday, the congregation gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for a $1 million addition on their current building. The 7,998-square-foot addition will include classrooms, with a secure entrance for parents to drop off their children, a larger nursery, a common room for conversation and bathrooms with showers for community outreach and use by members in power outages.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 23 years since Cornerstone began with 13 people. It’s amazing what God has done to grow his ministry,” said Nadine Hinton, one of the original people who met to plan the church.
“God has blessed us through the years, and it has never been about what we are doing, but what God is doing in the ministry. Throughout the history of Cornerstone, we have always, always sought the Lord’s direction from the planning stage through execution. We celebrate God’s grace on Cornerstone and look forward to his continued leading,” said Kevin Woods of Albrightsville, a longtime member and Sunday’s worship leader.
The special day began in the sanctuary, with the Rev. Stuart Szmaciasz preaching from Deuteronomy 1.
“As a pastor, one thing that moves me is that God will take us out of our comfort zone,” Szmaciasz said.
In Deuteronomy, the Israelites were being told, “You’ve stayed long enough on this mountain.”
Sometimes, people know they want to move forward, but are hesitant. “We think sometimes how is God going to do that,” Szmaciasz said. He told the congregation that before the church was built, he stood in the field and his foot landed on a golf ball. “There was nothing but a golf ball here.”
Yet the newly constructed church opened its doors on Easter Sunday 2005.
“There will always be obstacles that come our way. We say we want to stay here, but God says ‘the journey is not over,’ ” Szmaciasz said.
“In the 15 years in this building, God has blessed us in so many ways. God is at work, but he’s called us to move forward.”
Szmaciasz said that moving forward means not sitting back and saying, “It will happen one day.”
“We have to move out of our comfort zone,” he said.
The goal is for the addition to be complete by this time next year. It will be funded by the sacrificial pledges and offerings from the congregation with the remainder from a construction loan with ESSA Bank & Trust.
The church building is a prefabricated building by Barden & Robeson Corporation of Middleport, New York, the company that constructed the original building.
At the conclusion of the sermon, the congregation joined in singing “Build Your Kingdom Here” as they walked to the roped-off area where construction will begin.
“We’re standing out here again in the dirt, but you might be standing in a classroom, a common area, a new youth room or toddler room,” Szmaciasz told the congregation. “It’s a journey of faith and trust and seeing how God works. We give God the glory.”
The current classrooms will be turned into an adult Sunday school room, storage space for the deacons and more. The addition includes 2,700 square feet of unfinished space.
Deacon president Ed Hermann said the addition will alleviate space constraints for the church food pantry, making more functional space.
“We’re praising God for the opportunity for more space to serve the congregation and the community.”
Steve Knudsen, an elder who leads the children’s ministry with his wife, Sandy, commented on the new space.
“I’m just so thrilled because we’re bursting out in the classrooms. Praise God that we’re overflowing, but we want people to feel comfortable and cared for.”
He’s also excited about the opportunities. “We’re going to be able to share the Gospel with a lot more children,” Knudsen said.