EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

July 11, 2014

Salem church expanding to help community

Pleasant Street church in Salem plans major expansion

SALEM — There are high hopes at Pleasant Street United Methodist Church.

The church will break ground soon on its new Hope Center, according to the Rev. Susan Walker.

The center would provide the 152-year-old church with much-needed meeting space, a larger food pantry and accommodations for homeless families, she said.

“We’re hoping it get it started by this fall,” Walker said. “We are really excited.”

Plans for the 4,560-square center were approved by the town’s Planning Board nearly a year ago.

Donations for the $400,000 project have been rolling in, including a recent $30,000 contribution from Salem Co-operative Bank. It’s the largest donation to date and increases the amount raised to $216,877, Walker said.

“We are very grateful for that,” she said.

But more donations from the community are needed to complete the project by spring as planned, Walker said.

The storage building adjacent to the church must be torn down and trees cleared to make way for the center.

The congregation has also embarked on a project to restore the steeple, which is rotting and has been removed from the church, Walker said.

There’s a chance the steeple could be part of the new building, she said, but that has yet to be decided.

Once the project is complete, there should be plenty of space for community groups to meet, including Scouts, Walker said.

“It will help us do more outreach for the community,” she said.

The Food for the Hungry food pantry, now based in the church basement, will especially benefit from the expansion.

About 60 to 65 families visit the food pantry on a weekly basis, creating long lines at the church every Wednesday morning, volunteer Phylis Marchulaitis said.

“We serve a lot of people, so it’s going to be tremendous for us,” she said. “Right now, it’s in the basement and it wasn’t meant for that.”

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