For as large as the former Masury Methodist Church/Six-Fourteen Church is – and it has a sanctuary, offices, kitchen and dining room – you might be surprised at the one thing it does not have.
“We have zero storage,” said owner Scott Thompson. “This is a big building, but we’re using every single inch of it.”
The church has been transformed into a workshop and activities building for adults with developmental disabilities. The final touches on a renovation still haven’t been done, but the building has been used since August, Thompson said.
During a recent visit, one group of people was making snow globes and other winter crafts, another was playing Candy Land, another was drawing and there’s always someone in the gym, which is what the sanctuary has been repurposed into.
There are small rooms where autistic people can go to be alone and out of the noise of group activities, rooms for staff training, and the gym, which can also be a movie theater and party spot, is used for physical therapy and recreation.
“They come in here, now, every day.” Thompson said of the gym. “They exercise; they take some laps. They unwind. They play some corn hole; they might throw a ball around.”
The kitchen is a popular place.
“They love cooking,” he said. “That’s something they don’t normally get to do.”
Thompson is contemplating moving all offices into the house that used to be the church rectory to free up more space in the church, and has just bought a garage and open property across Broadway Avenue for parking and to house Brookfield Township’s first fire truck, which he also has bought and plans to restore.
“That’s gonna be a project with the individuals,” Thompson said of the truck.
Many of the clients live in homes owned by Thompson’s company, Bala Management Inc., but Thompson allows developmentally delayed adults from other residential settings to come to the workshop.
“Right now, we have 32 come here, and I have roughly about 30 that have applied to come, but I gotta have staff,” said Thompson, who owns the former church building through SAT Holdings Inc.
“We got growing pains right now,” he said. “Having to hire people and not being able to hire people – that’s the problem.”
It’s difficult to find workers, although the qualifications are flexible.
“They don’t need to have many skills,” he said. “Just have a high school education or a GED. Patient, compassionate people.”
Thompson has a number of projects still to go – adding basketball hoops, fixing the boilers, buying more kitchen equipment, opening up a silkscreen studio – but appreciates that he has a space to do it all in.
“We love the building,” he said. “They’re allowed to use everything. It’s helping out a lot of people.”