Work could begin in spring

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Mark Gibson of South Seaville looks at plans to rebuild the South Seaville United Methodist Church. The church was destroyed by fire in June, 2011 Mark Gibson of South Seaville looks at plans to rebuild the South Seaville United Methodist Church. The church was destroyed by fire in June, 2011

After fire, church looks to come back stronger

DENNIS TOWNSHIP – Plans to rebuild a Dennis Township church destroyed by fire last year include an indoor basketball court and a “strong Sunday school,” says parishioner Mark Gibson.

Gibson of South Seaville said he hopes the amenities will draw a younger crowd to the church.

“They're the future of any progressive organization," Gibson said, who is the chairman of the Rebuild Our Church Committee

Over several months, members have raised about $100,000 to be put toward reconstruction of the South Seaville United Methodist Church at Corson’s Tavern Road, he said. Fire destroyed the church in June 2011.

Insurance money will help cover the costs, Gibson said, and work could start in the spring 2013.

The Rev. Thomas Perry said the church is attempting to provide youth with an identity.

“And that’s very important to us,” Perry said.

The new church will be about 11,500 square feet; the old building had been about 8,500 square feet, Gibson said. The new church will resemble the design of the old church, which dated from the late 1800s, Gibson said, and it will also have stained-glass windows.

“It’s going to be a beautiful church,” he said.

The sanctuary will be larger in the new church, being able to seat around 175 people and 40 more if a balcony is built, Gibson said. The extra space would accommodate weddings, for example, Perry said.

The single-story church will include a social room with a basketball court, a bigger kitchen and classrooms, he said. The building will be wheelchair accessible, Gibson said.

Many of the areas in the new church will be multi-purpose, according to a blueprint of the building.

One of the ideas is having a stage behind the church where musicians would perform, Perry said.

The church plans to use $1,250,000 in insurance settlement money from Mercer Mutual Insurance Co. of Pennington, Mercer County, to rebuild the church. The church would also be reimbursed for doing building upgrades that needed done in the 1884 building, Gibson said.

Church members also hope to raise several hundred thousand dollars that will be used for furniture and other things inside the church.

Before construction could start, plans would need to be brought to the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church of Ocean Township, and there would be Dennis Township land-use approvals, Gibson said. He said he hoped that would be completed this fall.

Construction is expected to begin next spring.

The church site in South Seaville is still being cleared, Gibson said. The last remaining pile of debris should be hauled out by next week, he said.

The church has a foundation ready for the church with the fill in the ground, Gibson said.

In the meantime, parishioners have been meeting at the Grange, which is also on Corson’s Tavern Road in Dennis Township.

Sunday services are 8:30 a.m., contemporary; 10:30 a.m., traditional; and 7:30 p.m. hymn-sing style along with praying at the Grange, also. Sunday school is at 9:30 a.m.

About 14 people serve on the committee to rebuild the church, Gibson said. Over the course of around nine months, the group has worked on several items, including community outreach and preliminary plans, he said.

“It's the work of many people coming together prayerfully, cooperatively,” Gibson said.

For more information, contact Perry at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 602-6399.

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