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Mount Moriah Baptist Church

Each week, more than 2,000 congregation members worship at the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church sanctuary, which, until recently, was limited to a seating capacity of 800 people. Mount Moriah serves members not only at Sunday morning services but also for Bible studies, youth and music ministries, and outreach initiatives.

With a rich, 120-year history, the Mount Moriah footprint reaches far beyond the church walls into the community. As its membership grew and ministries increased, the church needed more space to extend its reach.

Bobbitt Design Build, a Butler Builder, was selected to execute the church’s decision to expand by adding a 2,000-seat sanctuary — and the expectations were high.

“The request of congregation members was clear: They wanted a space to praise and worship Christ,” Deacon Eugene Lemmon explained.

Sunday morning services at Mount Moriah are offered at several times, with services at 8 and 11 a.m. in the sanctuary, children service in the family life center, and teen service in the fellowship hall. Because the influx of church members strained the limited seating capacity, the sanctuary could no longer accommodate all worshippers. The church began showing services on a large video screen in the gymnasium of its family life center, which served as an overflow area.

The church sought to build a sanctuary that was architecturally appealing and appropriate for the prominent intersection of downtown North Charleston among restaurants, car dealerships and retail centers. It also was challenged to integrate design aesthetics of past additions to the church facility.

“To design for the future of Mount Moriah, it was important to not only establish a unique identity for our growing congregation but also to distinguish our church from area businesses,” Deacon Lemmon said. “All are welcome at our church. As such, we strove to create an environment that invited all community members to share in our worship experience.”

Led by Deacon Lemmon, the building committee engaged in a qualifications-based selection (QBS) procurement process to determine a general contractor for the sanctuary construction. Under the QBS procurement model, the cost of the work is not considered when making the final selection. Under this competitive procurement process:

• Contractors submit qualifications to the procuring entity, which in most cases is the building owner.
• The building owner evaluates and selects the most qualified firm.
• The project scope of work, schedule and budget are negotiated.
To meet the budgetary, scheduling, and design goals outlined by the building committee, Bobbitt used Butler Manufacturing building systems. Specifications for the three-story, 51,000-square-foot sanctuary included:

• A 48-foot steeple, radius-sloping floor and seating, and elevated-seating platform
• A baptistery large enough to serve 12 candidates at a time
• Administrative areas, choir room and areas for deacon and deaconess functions
• Adjacency to an existing structure, parking lot and landscaping

The main challenge in the design and build of Mount Moriah’s sanctuary was accommodating the height of the steeple and creating a highly functional, clearspan space. The Butler Widespan structural system served as the frame of the sanctuary. Designed to eliminate the need for interior columns, the clearspan framing system allowed for maximum use of interior space. 

The concealed, moveable clips of the roof system allow for expansion and contraction — ideal for the ever-changing climate of North Charleston. Combining the VSR II architectural roof system with the TextureWall panel wall system also helped the facility maximize thermal efficiency, which will reduce utility costs.

Aesthetic beauty was an important consideration for the new sanctuary, and the Butler products added to the facility’s architectural appeal. The Widespan structural system easily integrated with the high pitch and complex geometries of the VSR II architectural roof system. Using the TextureWall panel wall system complemented the hard-coat stucco used on the front and rear elevations of the building.

A consolidated bank loan financed the full cost of the project, but regular tithing, special pledges and existing money in Mount Moriah’s building fund helped cover part of the cost — enabling the church to avoid borrowing the maximum loan amount.

Butler Manufacturing provides a comprehensive combination of design-build construction services and innovative building technology to the nonresidential market, www.butlermfg.com. Photos courtesy of Firewater Photography.

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Religious Product News