St. John’s transforms building to become more accessible

In 2015, St. John’s reached a milestone in its history by undergoing a much-needed transformation to make the building more accessible to the community.

Highlights of the project include a new Fifth Street entrance that includes a ramp and accessible entrance into the building. There is now a gender neutral, ADA compliant accessible restroom. And, there is a lift for anyone who needs it into the sanctuary or up to the church office and conference room. A seating area for those in wheelchairs has also been added to the sanctuary. Additionally, through Emmaus Borough Council’s approval, two handicapped parking spaces have been added on Fifth Street to be used during 8 and 10:30 a.m. worship services.

View photos and details of the construction >  (PDF)

“It’s no easy feat to make drastic changes to an old stone church that was built nearly 100 years ago,” said Harold Klose, Church Council member who has been involved with the project. “We really wanted to make sure that our church doors could be open to everyone and that we could be a true resource for the Emmaus community. In order to do this, we needed to make sure that people could access the building and also be able to have access to different levels inside the building.”

For years, the congregation at the corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets discussed how to make the building more accessible. Informational discussion meetings were held in November 2014 to review with members how best to enhance mobility for people with physical challenges throughout the multi-leveled church building. The project and funding plan were approved by Congregational Council in January 2015, and by the Congregation at the Annual Meeting on January 25, 2015. The $300,000 construction project began in March 2015 and was completed in September 2015. Construction was completed by Arthur P. Houser General Contractor. There is currently a fundraising campaign underway for the project. On Sunday, November 1, St. John’s celebrated this milestone with a dedication program that featured remarks by Emmaus Mayor Winfield “Winnie” Iobst.

“Accessibility is a matter of faith: the good news from Jesus, in all its forms, is for everyone; therefore, the Word and Sacrament offered in worship must be available to as wide an audience as possible,” said St. John’s Pastor Kenneth Buckwalter. “Additionally, we want to make community groups and individuals aware that the building is now accessible. We welcome community groups to meet at our facility, and we welcome all those in the community to join us for worship.”