St. Augustine’s gets ready to dedicate new church

St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods Episcopal Church will dedicate its new addition next weekend, a 9,400-square-foot, two-story expansion that nearly doubles the size of the church’s facilities.

St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods Episcopal Church will dedicate its new addition next weekend, a 9,400-square-foot, two-story expansion that nearly doubles the size of the church’s facilities.

“This is the parish’s commitment to the future with the same sense of optimism of the people who came before us,” said Harry Anderson, who as senior warden is the top lay person in the church.

“This will be our testament and our legacy,” Anderson said.

The new $2 million expansion includes an entry, fellowship hall, staff offices, lounge, restrooms, kitchen, storage and mechanical room, plus unfinished space, including the basement, that can be used later.

The project, primarily financed with contributions from the congregation, is perhaps the largest on South Whidbey in the past few years, Anderson said.

“It was a challenge,” he said of the expansion, which was all but completed in time for Easter. “Everybody’s heaving a sigh of relief that it’s done.”

The expanded church will be officially dedicated beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 12, led by The Right Rev. Greg Rickel, Episcopal Bishop of Olympia, who oversees parishes in Western Washington and who will cut the red ribbon.

A reception will follow in the new parish hall. The church is located on a wooded site overlooking Holmes Harbor at 5217 S. Honeymoon Bay Road near Freeland.

Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton, St. Augustine’s rector, said the project reflects two decades of planning “and the amazing commitment and generosity of our congregation.”

“It also represents our optimism about the future and our desire to share with the entire community,” he added.

Anderson said the new addition enhances the original building constructed in 1978, which itself enlarged the first church, built in 1962.

The original congregation was formed as a mission church in 1951 by several South Whidbey families seeking regular Episcopal services on the island. For the first decade, they met at the Langley Library, at a Langley dance studio and at another Freeland church before building their own church in 1962, Anderson said.

The architect for the latest expansion is Stig Carlson of Coupeville, whose firm also designed the Freeland Library and the Coupeville Library expansion.

His assignment was to create an addition that would fit with the current building and into the 4.5-acre wooded site. Among the stipulations was that none of the trees were to be removed, Anderson said.

The result was a continuation of the style elements of the existing church building. The project also includes a light tower at the front entrance that originally was to be part of the 1978 facility.

In keeping with the congregation’s green and sustainability aspirations, the expansion incorporates recycled materials retained from previous construction on the site.

It also includes a large wooden cross, handmade by parishioner Bert Johnson, which was in the 1962 building. It now is displayed in the new parish hall, Anderson said.

He said the new addition was built to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) specifications by Pearson Construction of Bellingham, builders of a number of efficient church buildings in the Puget Sound area.

Green building techniques employed include bamboo flooring, rain gardens and swales to manage stormwater runoff, high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters, replacement of asphalt with a permeable surface in much of the parking lot and maximized use of daylight through numerous windows to reduce the need for electricity.

“There was a commitment by the entire church to go easy on the environment,” said Susan Sandri of Langley, chairwoman of the building committee.

“We hope to be a model for other churches and public service groups to follow,” added Margaret Schultz of Freeland, junior warden at St. Augustine’s.

Anderson said the new building is the first phase of a long-term project to accommodate the needs of a growing congregation. The next phase, still unscheduled, would involve expansion of the church’s sanctuary space, he added.

Taber-Hamilton said the congregation includes more than 200 members, and that more than 130 attend services on any given Sunday. He said the parish hall will accommodate more than 200 people for events held by organizations in the broader community.

“It’s amazing that a small community can build and pay for a $2 million project,” Taber-Hamilton said.

“About every 20 years we build something,” he added. “Maybe in 25 years we’ll have another new building, because we wore this one out.”

For more information about the dedication and reception, call 331-4887.