“My husband is almost 93 and getting wobbly on his feet,” Ruth admits. “I’m scared for him. He wants to go to church as long as he’s able.”
Becoming more hospitable has been energizing for the congregation, noted pastor Brenda Hostetler Meyer. “We had talked about it for a long time and felt bad that we were so inaccessible. We were more and more aware that our steps were keeping people away,” Meyer continued. That growing awareness of the gap in their hospitality motivated the congregation to take action.
“Expanding Our Welcome” was the name the congregation gave to their renovation project. In addition to the lift, the project included an enlarged foyer and an accessible family restroom, which accommodates wheelchairs and anyone who needs assistance from a spouse or parent of the opposite sex.
A second phase will modify existing men’s and women’s restrooms for accessibility and add a fellowship hall on the level of the sanctuary.
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Photos courtesy Hannah Gerig Meyer.
Casandra Byler washes her hand in Benton's new accessible family restroom.
Grant Martin operating the sound system. A large sign lets visitors know that hearing assistance is available. Sign reads: "Hearing assistance available. This facility is equipped with a hearing assistance system. Please ask for a receiver. Williams Sound Corp."
Ruth Shaum and her husband Paul appreciate using Benton's new lift.
Levi Smucker (striped shirt) talks with Dorvin Schlabach after worship. They are standing next to a shortened pew and movable chairs that provide space for wheelchairs.
A gently sloping ramp allows wheelchair access to the raised pulpit area.
Ruth and Paul Shaum make regular use of Benton Mennonite's new lift.
An accessible family restroom at Benton Mennonite accommodates wheelchairs and those who needs assistance from a spouse or parent of the opposite sex.