Parishioners of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church have pledged more than $653,000 toward the construction of Columbia County's first Catholic church.
The announcement was made Sunday, Feb. 9, at a reception celebrating the start of St. Teresa's fund-raising campaign, titled "Living the Vision Together Through Grace."
Joseph S. Soparas, chairman of the church's Capital Campaign Committee, said Sunday that the initial pledge amount is "only the tip of the iceberg.
"The campaign hopes to raise in excess of $1.5 million dollars with groundbreaking in late fall," Soparas said.
The Sunday evening reception capped a day of celebration.
The Rev. Thomas Peyton (from left), Tim Bair and Joseph Soparas release pigeons to
celebrate the start of the St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church fund-raising campaign to build Columbia County's first Catholic church.
Worshippers gathered outside the church after the 9:30 a.m. Mass to watch parish youth release pigeons and blow soap bubbles to symbolize the start of the campaign. St. Teresa's pastor, Father Thomas Peyton, and Soparas released 20 pigeons into the air as parishioners cheered.
Activities continued throughout the day for parish youth, including a bike rodeo and plenty of food and live music in the church's social hall.
At the reception Sunday evening, parishioners learned more about the building plans and details of the capital campaign. Keynote speaker Lynn M. Smith, a St. Teresa parishioner since 1982, spoke of her and her family's strong connection with the parish and urged others to help however they could with the new church's construction.
"Contemplate your options with an open mind, but more so with an open heart," Smith said.
St. Teresa purchased 44 acres on Columbia Road last year to build its new church. Phase one of the capital campaign will involve building a parish life center, a religious education building and administrative offices on the site, a former golf driving range.
The Rev. Peyton stands with parish youth by the church's sign announcing its capital campaign, titled "Living the Vision Together Through Grace."
According to Soparas, the site has many advantages.
"The land for our new campus is located along a major traffic corridor through the county with easy access, utilities are all ready in place and the 44 acres gives us room for expansion which is not afforded by the present property."
The current church campus on Pleasant Home Road in Augusta will be sold. Funds from the sale will go toward the new campus construction.
Also, parishioners will be asked to make tax-deductible pledges, called faith promises, regularly over the next three years to fund construction. People who choose to donate will be given several options, or share plans, to choose how they will fulfill their faith promises.
Church officials say they will build only what the parish can pay for. St. Teresa began in 1968 on the corner of Pleasant Home and Crane Ferry roads in Augusta, near its present location on Pleasant Home. The parish has grown to about 1,400 families, most of whom live in Columbia County.
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