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Harriman Church of God prepares for big move

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman Church of God’s dream of relocating to its new facility is moving quickly.

The church, which closed on the property that was once home to EET and Dagger Canoe in Midtown on Dec. 10, 2012, already has moved into the office space and what will be the fellowship hall and kitchen of the building.

Church members hope to begin having services there in June.

Construction of the rest of the building to meet the church’s needs is under way, and the church will include a larger sanctuary, large children’s church area and youth area as well as Sunday school rooms and a conference room.

“I’m hoping and praying God will just bless us, and it will really start growing,” said the Rev. Jeff Blackburn.
Growing is exactly the goal, with limited space and parking at the current facility on Ruritan Road hampering newcomers from visiting.

“We really believe part of our hindered growth is because of space limitations. We don’t have hardly any seating now where we are at. It is growing,” described Blackburn of the packed worship services.

He said visitors have had to leave because of lack of seating, and others have driven by and went on after seeing no parking.

“It is just a loving church. For years, it has been called the caring place. It lives up to its name,” Blackburn said about what has drawn people to attend the ever-growing church.

The fellowship hall will have some minor changes but is otherwise outfitted. It’s named after Praise Curtis, the last charter member who died in 2008.

“The sanctuary we are building out is 300 seats. We are building youth and children’s rooms,” said Blackburn.
“We built a pretty good-sized room for our children’s church,” Blackburn said.

Right now the church has an active children’s church, but members want to see it grow.

“We have about 30 children that come on Sunday for children’s church,” Blackburn said.

Bigger dreams include making another large area into a gymnasium for various activities.

“My vision for the place — I want to have it a hub of activity all during the week, not just Sundays,” Blackburn said.
That includes visions of indoor play areas for families as part of the children’s ministry.

“We just want to be able to grow the family in Roane County. It is important,” Blackburn said.

The church first set its sights on this building some time ago, when it was the former Dagger Canoe. However, it sold to EET, who is still using a section of the property.

Later, the congregation purchased 27 acres near Midtown Elementary in 2006.

When this building became available, however, it was clear to church leaders that they could remodel the large facility more cheaply than building on the property they own.

Blackburn said they were able to get the 72,000-square-foot building for less than the cost of constructing what would have amounted to a 12,500-square-foot building on the other site. The area proposed for the gymnasium at the new facility is 12,500 alone.

Steve Hicks, church administrator, said people like Curtis did a lot of fundraising for the church building fund.

Without them, none of this would be a reality. The church outright owns its current location and the 27 acres near Midtown Elementary. The only debt is the new debt for the building being renovated.

“We have got a good group of people that give,” Hicks said.