After a long planning process, parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic church in Jefferson visualize a new beginning at the groundbreaking of their new church on Luther Road.
On a rainy afternoon on Sept. 29, around 40 people, including U.S. Congresswoman Virgina Foxx, joined Father James Stuhrenberg and Bishop Peter Jugis for the groundbreaking ceremony.
A parish of the Diocese of Charlotte, St. Francis of Assisi was dedicated on Aug. 27, 1963. Since its formal dedication, the church has grown to serve “a couple hundred families” in Ashe County, said David Thomas, a member of the church’s building and planning committee.
The church’s need for another location is echoed by parishioner Joyce Spainhour. “The church is too small,” Spainhour said.
“When you go to service or mass, it’s overflowing.” Spainhour said the parishioners of the church are “very excited” about the new building.
According to a timeline provided by Thomas, research began in December 2006 for land options for the new property. The 15 acre property was purchased by the Diocese of Charlotte on Feb. 29, 2008 and the church started a “capital campaign” to pay off the land debt. The debt was paid off in four years, “almost to the day” by parishioners through fundraising and donations said Thomas.
The timeline also showed that an initial building and planning committee was formed in June 2008. In May 2011, the committee selected Appalachian Architecture of Boone, and together, they developed the initial church design concept. Architect Bill Dixon said the church will be “traditional in plan, but modern in conveniences and features.”
“It will be fully accessible,” Dixon said and will include an elevator for parishioners with limited mobility.
In February 2012, a formal presentation of the church building plan was submitted to the Diocese of Charlotte for approval, and after interviewing several contractors, the church decided on Enterline and Russell Builders as their general contractors.
Tom Enterline, of Enterline and Russell Builders, estimated that the project would take about 12 months to complete, and would consist of approximately 10,500 square feet. The church will be two stories with upper and lower parking areas and will include classrooms, a meeting area and a large kitchen.