GARDINER — The Rev. Glenn Metzler is hoping workers will be done renovating the sanctuary at Faith Christian Church in time for Easter next Sunday.

The congregation is a few weeks away from completing a five-year renovation project at the former Robinson’s Health Facility on Brunswick Avenue, across the street from Laura E. Richards School.

When the church moved from 187 Sewall St. in Augusta five years ago, it also changed its name from Kennebec Mennonite Church to Faith Christian Church. The Augusta building is now the home of New Life Christian Fellowship.

The church broke away from the Mennonite denomination and formed a new organization, along with other churches in New England, called the Harvest Fellowship of Churches. The fellowship is an evangelical Anabaptist organization “conceived in the heart of God and birthed out of the heart of leaders primarily in the New England region,” according to the Fellowship website.

The church’s old home just south of the State House complex had a lot of zoning issues, and that limited what could be done with that property, so it was on the market several years, said Richard Dickey of Richmond, a church member.

Businesses are not allowed in that neighborhood, but it could be used for another church or a daycare center, or converted into apartments. The property was eventually sold to the New Life Christian Fellowship Church.

Metzler said the sale of the Sewall Street property made it possible for the church to move ahead with the renovation project, which includes volunteer labor and donations and is estimated to cost $500,000.

“This used to be a patient unit and we gutted all the rooms and put new trusses in to get the vaulted ceiling,” Metzler said.

“We did quite a bit of the work ourselves and had a contractor here and there. We were fortunate to have an electrician in our congregation.”

The move increased the church’s space from 8,000 to 16,000 square feet, he said.

Sunlight can shine through the rows of arched-top clear glass windows and the single octagon glass pane with an etched dove behind the platform where Metzler will deliver his services.

Two rows of chandeliers hang from the ceiling of the sanctuary, which has a 200-seat capacity.

Metzler said churches are struggling to keep their doors open, but says the congregation will grow in time. The church has about 80 active members.

“We wanted to build debt-free, and we’ve been able to do that,” he said.

“We did take out a small loan on the building in Augusta and trusted in God for the resources we needed.”

Dickey said, “There was this abandoned building and another church was interested in it. We were able to see through the eyes of that church what a wonderful, potential location this was.”

In the church’s new space, a number of walls were removed to open up the space for a sanctuary and fellowship hall. Patient rooms were turned into classrooms and offices. The large floor plan includes a fellowship hall, large conference rooms, a food pantry, library, a youth area with pool and foosball tables, several classrooms, and a nursery.

The building has a backup generator and commercial kitchen and is in the process of becoming a certified disaster relief center, he said.

“The kitchen is the same as it was when it was a nursing home,” he said. “We have people here who like to cook big pots of food.”

Dickey said the church will hold an open house on May 19 following a dedication service at 10 a.m.

The public is invited to the service and open house. Refreshments will be served.

“We’ll be giving tours and talking about what we’re doing and what the future has to hold,” Dickey said.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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