There is a new look to the Walnut Hill Community Church on Dorwin Hill in New Milford.

One of five campuses for the Walnut Hill church family, the Dorwin Hill edifice has been undergoing significant renovation during recent months.

"We're doing a full renovation of the church building," said Clive Calver, the church's senior pastor, "and the six-acre site that includes grading, parking lot expansion (from 40 to 90 spaces) and adding handicap accessibility."

The New Milford campus serves about 200 parishioners per week.

"We began the $1 million project in August with a goal to be settled in the newly renovated sanctuary for Easter," explained Calver.

"While the renovation is going on in the sanctuary," he added, "the thriving church is meeting in the gymnasium that is located on the property."

Calver is especially proud that Walnut Hill's church participation is so healthy.

"At a time when churches are closing their doors, it's great to record one that is bursting at the seams," he said. "The reason for the renovation of the sanctuary is that Walnut Hill's Litchfield County campus has outgrown the gymnasium we are currently meeting in.

"We have had to refurbish the church to accommodate the burgeoning and expanding congregation," he noted.

The installation of a steeple in December was a significant step in the project.

"It's great to have a fully equipped gymnasium," Calver said, "and good to bring an old sanctuary up to date and ready again for worship, yet a church really does need a steeple."

He pointed out few people would want to get married in a church without a steeple, and people in the community want a church to look ecclesiastical for a burial.

"We want the church to accommodate the needs of the community," Calver remarked. "Meanwhile, what happens inside the church is contemporary, lively, exciting and God-honoring.

"The steeple will act as a useful sign post to alert people of another venue they can visit," he concluded, "when they want to encounter God in a deeper way today."

Brian Prue is the pastor at the New Milford campus.

"Since we began having services in town over two years ago," he said, "we have been working toward renovating the entire property.

"This is a great moment for us as the raising of the steeple means the building is nearing completion in the next few months," he added, "and we will soon be moving our Sunday services into the new building."

The steeple raising and the near finish to renovations have lifted the spirits of church members.

"It has been an exciting two years," Prue said. "Where we meet now in the gym building has served us well, but we keep growing."

Church services are offered Sundays at 9 and 10:45 a.m.

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