Catholic Church Breaks Ground in Maynardville

Bishop Richard Stika, Fr. Steve Pawelk and Union County Mayor Mike Williams break ground for the new St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church in Maynardville.

It’s been a long road, but with a lot of faith and community support St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church will move into a permanent church home sometime around the middle of 2018.

The church broke ground for the new building during a special ceremony at the church carnival held Sept. 2, on the church’s 24-acre property, located behind Kay’s Market on Maynardville Highway. Pastor Fr. Steve Pawelk said earthmoving will happen soon, and once that is complete, construction should begin soon after.

The new church will be around 6,000 square feet with a sanctuary that will seat 250 people. The building will also include an entryway, offices, bathrooms and a kitchen. The structure will be the equivalent of three stories high, made of brick. Dan Brewer is the architect.

Pawelk said much of the church’s construction will be provided with free labor from church members who are professionals in the industry. For example, brick was chosen because, “we have a lot of bricklayers,” said Pawelk.

The church had planned to start construction a year ago, but they decided to wait until more fundraising could be done.

“I have the philosophy that you have to have half of the money of the total cost before you begin because I don’t want to burden the congregation with a debt they can’t handle,” Pawelk said.

Funding comes from multiple sources, including an in-congregation capitol campaign now in its third year, funds raised from the annual carnival and yard sale, and donations large and small from folks local and nationwide.

Future plans include a walking path with places for quiet prayer, which will be open to the community, and a community service center.

“The Boy Scouts will be working on that for us,” said Pawelk. “We’ll eventually add a soccer field in God’s time. In the beginning, the sanctuary will also serve as our Christian education building. A new building for that will follow when God permits it.”

The church just celebrated its sixth anniversary. Starting as Blessed Teresa Catholic Mission, the church held its first public mass in Pawelk’s carport, then moved to Millers Chapel United Methodist Church. Right now, they hold services in a storefront space across Maynardville Highway from Food City.

Twenty-six people came to the first mass. Today, St. Teresa has 135 registered families and averages 80 people each Sunday service. One mass is given in Spanish, another in English. Instead of Sunday school, the church has Bible study classes for all ages on Wednesday nights. About 80 people show up for those, too.

That’s a lot of people for the small storefront space.

“We are able to do worship OK, but we’re pushing the seams. We’re actually bursting out on the educational program. It’s a wonderful blessing,” said Pawelk.

But the new building won’t just be for services. It will also be a launch pad for the congregation’s various community service projects, including supporting two Union County food pantries, a free community clinic held monthly in Washburn, free school supplies for local students, collecting winter quilts and blankets for those in need, and being part of Union County Children’s Charities Under the Tree campaign.

“A church doesn’t exist for itself,” said Pawelk. “We serve not only the Catholic community, but we try in the spirit of Matthew 25 to support community activities. We’re trying to be good Christians and good citizens of the local community to follow Jesus’ mission of service and love to all, which was also Mother Teresa’s mission.”

Also, “through the grace of a special donor from out of state,” the church provides necessities for 10 local families per month referred by ETHRA, said Pawelk.

Late spring or early summer is the tentative timeline for completion.

“The expectation is that once construction begins, after the excavation phase, once the frame and roof go up, we expect it to be done in six months,” said Pawelk. “But God has his own plans, and humans are very silly to think we can control timelines.”

Pawelk thanked everyone in the community for supporting the church and invited everyone to visit.

“We hope it is a place where anyone who is feeling despair or overwhelmed can come. As a child of God, you can come and find peace,” he said. “So many people have been praying for us and supporting us. I am grateful for the good Christians of this county who have welcomed us. We are blessed to be in Union County, and I am a proud Union County citizen.”

Find St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BTCCM/. Photos courtesy of Chantay Collins.

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