Dayspring Church unveils $1 million renovation as congregation thrives

Renovations at Dayspring Church are hitting their completion just in time for the fireworks.

“It’s like a facelift,” Deborah Winkler, connections and discipleship pastor, said.

The church has been at the current location, at 17360 N. Dixie Hwy., for 35 years.

The pews were removed for stadium seating. There’s a completely new foyer, with a focus on cleanliness, inspired by pandemic needs. That also was the inspiration for new audio, video and computer systems, as communications became vitally important for the congregation because of COVID, and could be like that again.

Renovations began in May and will be finished this week. The pastors have said that supply chain issues slowed things down, but they have made up for the delays with extra hands.

“We had a lot of good people at Dayspring that gave us a good finished product, with our board and our design teams,” Cody Winkler, lead pastor, said. “This project will be coming in at about $1 million. It’s paid for by the generosity of people in our church. So it’s really not that we are doing this for them, we are doing it together and for our community.”

He stressed that the facility is a tool to expand the works of the church.

“We take care of God’s house and we take care of our community. It’s not cutting back any of our ministries for the sake of this building,” Cody Winkler added.

A 6 p.m. dedication service will be held on Sunday, with the annual fireworks display that they started in 2020.

Last minute construction was still in process Wednesday morning, in preparation for regular Sunday rehearsals at 6 p.m. that evening.

This is not the project that was originally discussed by the congregation. Plans were interrupted by a pandemic. It started as a gym addition to the building, but that has become Phase 2 of their construction plans, to be started in 2023.

The most obvious changes will be the new seating and carpeting, but that’s just the beginning.

Safety was a chief consideration. Trying to plan for the next 35 years, during a pandemic, they attempted to think of everything, from easier sight lines in the sanctuary, to seat fabric that can be more easily and completely cleaned, and hand railing made of glass and steel, instead of wood.

“It just allows for better safety measures to be in place,” Cody Winkler said. “It’s sad that we have to think of these things, but it would be sad if we didn’t think of these things.”

The Winklers began at Dayspring Church in early 2020, with Cody starting in January and Deborah closing on their house in Illinois and moving to Bowling Green on March 12, 2020. The following week would be the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

By Sunday morning church services on March 22, less than a week later, they were live but virtual and still learning how to run the online system that they had come up with on the fly.

The Family Life Center had been used during the pandemic for extra space, but has now been converted back to its regular uses. The various youth programs had been squeezed into temporary rooms, as the large room was converted into a temporary sanctuary. It held 250, but that required three services, instead of the usual two.

It will be back to business as usual, on Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. That means all the construction needs to be finished before Sunday morning.

Despite the hassles of construction, Dayspring attendance has been roaring back. The Winklers are focused on engagement.

“Today, we have more serving in our church, on Serve Day, than we did attending in 2020. That’s a healthier metric for me to look at. Not just are they coming, but are they engaged and growing,” Cody Winkler said.

Deborah Winkler talked about the school supply and clean-up efforts they just completed on Aug. 20, with 300 volunteers working at almost a dozen locations.

They demured to take credit for the renovation project, noting that the efforts — from planning to installation — of all the people of the church, during the strange pandemic environment.

“You know, we think, this is not because of us,” Cody Winkler said.

“It’s not. It’s the Lord,” Deborah Winkler added.

Cody Winkler reflected on taking on a huge project in the middle of the chaos of the last two years.

“Moving during a pandemic. Doing a church remodel during a pandemic. That’s pretty foolish,” Cody said. “But maybe not.”

The community is welcome to attend the dedication service, fireworks display and other outdoor festivities, which starts at 6 p.m. on Sunday.