ELGIN, IL (November 29, 2012) – The issues confronting those who are challenged by curbs and stairs did not figure prominently into building designs in the early 1970s, the time that the Evangelical Covenant Church of Elgin was constructed.
After nearly 40 years, however, the small congregation at 1565 Larkin Avenue decided change was in order. The congregation in recent years has completed several projects to enhance accessibility into and within its facility, with perhaps the most important improvement completed just this month – a ramp that leads from the driveway to a new entrance into the building.
“From our Church Council discussions over the spring and summer to our congregational meeting in September, the same thing was being said by different people: ‘It’s the right thing to do,’ ” says Pastor Jonathan Wilson, who has been serving Elgin Covenant since 2006.
Project funding was provided by the Ed Scholer Memorial Fund for Capital Improvements with pro bono work provided by several professionals. It is the third improvement made by the church to assist those who have trouble with curbs and stairs.
The first project was undertaken in the late 1990s with installation of a chairlift to connect the sanctuary level to the upstairs where the fellowship hall and kitchen are located. The second project was completed in 2011 – a unisex restroom sized and equipped to serve people in wheelchairs.
The ramped entrance means that all who who need assistance with curbs and stairs now have access to the sanctuary, church offices, library, and restroom, all at ground level. They also have access to the fellowship hall, kitchen, and nursery/toddler care area through the use of the lift.
“The ramp lets new visitors and guests know that, yes, we want you to come in,” says Wilson. “It will also help many of our long-time members for whom stairs and curbs are harder to climb than they used to be.”
While the entrance is now operational, the work on the project is not yet complete. A button will be installed to open the door automatically, a canopy will be extended over the door area, and there are some landscaping details to be completed.
“Our church is also used by community service and recovery groups who meet regularly on our campus,” says Wilson. “If this new entrance means that people who would have been excluded can get involved or stay involved in their community, it is already worth it.”
Only the basement rooms for children’s and youth education are inaccessible at this time. A plan for an elevator to reach all three floors of the church is currently in a grant research-and-writing process.