Since the completion of the old church sanctuary (the present multi-purpose hall) in 1984, there have been suggestions that the church needed to start looking at building a new sanctuary to cater to growth. Studies were conducted and plans with the Klang Town Master Plan in mind; and with changes in leadership they were eventually put on the back burner.
In late 1998, the topic was again raised and there was renewed discussions as to whether to build a new and bigger sanctuary or to start church planting/preaching point in a new area. The LCEC in 2000 then decided to take seek God’s direction with 2 weeks of prayer and fasting. At the end of this period, the LCEC met again to make a decision based on what they have heard from God. A secret ballot was decided so that no one would feel pressurized to decide one way or the other based on what others’ decisions. As the results of ballot paper was read out one after another, one could sense the tension as to whether there would be different opinions. After all if we did sincerely sought God and heard from Him, we should all hear the same result. But what if some heard differently? As one ballot after another was read out, tension filled the air. The first one said “Yes”, the next read “Yes” and so it went… Would there be a negative voice out there? Finally the last ballot was read and it turned out to be “Yes”. What a sigh of relief for everyone at the unanimous decision! It was a definite sign from God that we should proceed.
A committee was set up to look into the requirements and needs of the church and a congregational meeting was held to hear the views from the members. There was a clear call for more facilities for the Sunday School, youth activities, meeting rooms for adult classes and sufficient toilets. Working within the height restrictions under the Klang Master Plan, the appointed architect came up with a 4 storey building with a basement car park utilising the limited space available outside the existing sanctuary and the manse. In order to contain costs, the building was also designed with supporting pillars in the basement car park and the sanctuary. The plans were submitted to the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) in September 2001 for what was expected to be a long approval process; and would buy us some time to raise sufficient funds for the project anticipated to be about RM1.8 million then.
The fund raising was then started to supplement the approximate RM900,000 which the church already had in the reserve fund in anticipation of the building extension. Part of these funds (RM250,000) were also withdrawn earlier to buy a parsonage in Bandar Bukit Tinggi as the old manse was being used for church activities due to shortage of space, with the understanding that when these funds were needed, the church would then sell the parsonage and hoped that there would have been some capital gains in that time.
However God had other ideas. The approval process for the church was been speeded up and within 7 to 8 months we were already waiting for the MPK to formally approve the plans as all the various departments had no objections to the submitted plans. It was in a way a shock to some of us as we had to start building work with a year of the approval, but there was not yet sufficient funds. In May 2002, the building plans were formally approved by MPK and we had to proceed to start planning for the building works to start. The LCEC had a year earlier finished studying as a group “Experiencing God” and this was indeed a test for many of us in putting the theory in practice.
There was not much interest shown by contractors in the project despite the fact that the economy was beginning to show signs of a slowdown. The contractor appointed to the job was the main contractor for housing development project of one of the church/committee members.
As we discussed with the Council of Trustees (COT) of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, under which all building projects and ownership must be held, we were advised to divide the building costs to reflect the basic structure excluding furniture and fittings. This would then lessen the amount the local church needed to raise (80% of the building costs) before the COT would sign all the contracts and plans with the main contractor. With basic structure estimated at RM1.5 million it would mean we needed to have RM1.2 million in hand. We had by then this amount in the bank and were able to start with building works. The ground breaking ceremony was held on November 2003.
As construction started a number of “miracles” occurred:
- The preliminary survey of the ground indicated a need for piling work for the foundation of the 4 storey building. A sum of RM160,000 was set aside for this. As the piling work started, the contractor indicated that they could only pile in about 50% of the planned work as the piling had reached solid rock and could not go further. With these savings we were able to consider using the funds to strengthen the structural beams in the basement carpark and the sanctuary and thereby removed the need for supporting pillars.
- The original plans did not provide for a lift due to costs. A new member who is an architect by profession suggested that although we did not have the funds to include the costs of the lift, we should nevertheless make provision for a lift shaft to enable the elderly and physically challenged to be able to access the upper floors.
- Despite all the fund raising activities which included a fund raising dinner, a fun-fair, recycling and other sales activities, more than 90% of the funds for the building project were raised internally i.e. from the church members. The fund raising activities raised only about RM200,000 in total.
- After the contract was signed with the main contractor, the price of steel began to rise in the world market. Despite this, the main contractor agreed to honour the prices per the agreement.
- There was not a time when we were short of funds for payment to the main contractor and other suppliers. On the contrary there were times we were asking them for the invoices for the progressive payment(s). God remained faithful in ensuring the cash flow of the project.
- As the building progressed, we looked at the furniture and fittings for the building which included:
- Stage for the altar
- Centralized air-conditioning for the main sanctuary
- 80% sound proofing walls for the classrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors
- AV equipment for the main sanctuary
- A properly acoustic fitted sanctuary given the experience of many other churches which encountered serious acoustic problems.
The above brought the building project costs close to RM3.2 million. It was decided that we would need to phase out the planned purchase of AV equipment till after completion of the building project.
- The selection of the right AV equipment was a challenge as no one in the church was able to evaluate the proposed equipment from the vendors as well as ensure that the acoustics issue would be resolved. We had been in a number of beautiful sanctuaries but the poor acoustics made it difficult for people to hear the speaker/presentations. Through a divine intervention, we were introduced to a sound engineer cum acoustics specialist who would charge a flat fee for his services (instead of a fixed percentage of the costs of AV equipment and acoustics treatment, which is the normal practice). He evaluated the AV equipment from the vendors and submitted a plan for the acoustics in the sanctuary, which was adopted, resulting in a great sound and acoustics system.
- The building works were completed in March 2005 and a Certificate of Fitness (CF) was requested from the relevant authorities. This was given in May 2005. It had taken a total of 39 months from submission of plans to obtaining the CF; a total fo 30 months from the ground breaking to completion. The building was officially dedicated to God in June 2005 by Bishop Hwa Yung.
God has demonstrated His faithfulness again and again in this project. The church did not have to borrow a single sen for the entire project. We also did not have to sell the parsonage which had been bought earlier as a hedge against inflation. We also able to purchase all the required AV equipment; and the phased purchasing plan was not required. God in His own special way raised the money for the entire project mainly through the internal funds of the church and the church members’ generous giving. The whole journey has been “Experiencing God”; putting the theory into practice. All glory, praise and honour to the Almighty God – the great I AM!