MONTICELLO — The Bible says that "where two or three gather" in God's name, he will be there with them.
But when you're packing 80 to 100 people into an 1,800-square-foot space, it's still time to move.
That is the situation Faith Lutheran Church in Monticello found itself in earlier this year, and it prompted members to purchase a commercial building at 1201 Bear Lane and renovate it to serve as their new church building.
The congregation held its first service Oct. 7 in that new location and is welcoming the public to take part in a dedication service and open house at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"It's actually made our church family stronger," said Trustee Mike Moffett of Monticello, who spearheaded the intensive renovation that volunteers undertook starting Aug. 30. "There are a lot of people who have bonded who had not really talked to each other before this project."
The move after two years at 304 S. Market St. expands the capacity of the sanctuary from 90 to 160, in addition to having a larger kitchen, fellowship space and five spaces for Christian education classes.
"We were meeting in McDonald's; we were meeting in Coldwell Banker," the Rev. Kurtis Bueltmann said of the education setup at the previous location. "That was a blessing, but it's nice to have our own spaces we can use."
A core group of about 25 volunteers found there was plenty to do at the new location, including replacement of the drop ceiling to bring it up to current building codes.
The former location basically had a sanctuary and bathrooms, along with a small kitchen. The new building, which doubles overall space to 5,000 square feet, adds a nursery, fellowship hall, narthex, youth room and altar guild room.
Bueltmann, who was hired as pastor a little more than a year ago, said his main task during the project was to keep the congregation focused on the big picture.
"I'm reminding people it's not about the building, it's about the people, and keeping the focus on the ministry and on our Savior Jesus, and the love and forgiveness he gives. The building is simply a building," he said.
But he is still excited to see "the enthusiasm of the congregation and the growth we continue to see.
A group of about 40 started meeting on Oct. 31, 2010, and chartered as Faith Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) on June 5 of the next year. Bueltmann has been on board since Sept. 11, 2011.