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Groundbreaking Ceremony Celebrates Church Future
With a little help from Forward in Faith team members, the Legacy members of Escalon Presbyterian Church turn the first shovels full of dirt for the expansion project. Legacy members are, from left, Tom Hagan, Erma Jeanne Barton and John Mostowski. Marg Jackson/The Times


Escalon’s Presbyterian Church on First Street is growing … so much so that it has basically outgrown its current ‘footprint’ and has to expand.

Congregation members and church leaders gathered on Sunday for a groundbreaking ceremony to officially get that expansion underway.

With Pastor Troy Onsager and members of the planning/building Forward in Faith team offering some remarks, the children’s choir performing songs and a drone flying overhead to record a bird’s eye view of the festivities, the congregation celebrated turning the first shovels full of dirt. Honored to turn those first shovels were Escalon Presbyterian ‘Legacy’ members Tom Hagan, Erma Jeanne Barton and Bob Mostowski. All were escorted from their seats in the audience to the patch of dirt behind the existing church to turn the shovels.

Hagan has been a member at Escalon Presbyterian since 1951; Barton since 1953 and Mostowski since 1961. A fourth Legacy member, Arlene Smith, was unable to attend but is the longest tenured member, joining the congregation in April 1936.

Known as ‘Forward in Faith,’ the church’s capital campaign to build the addition has been ongoing for the past several years, starting with acquiring property behind the church in 2009 and demolishing an existing building to make way for future expansion.

A facilities task force was formed in 2011 to gather ideas and develop a plan, and an architectural firm was hired in 2012 to put the master plan on paper, including design for a new all-purpose facility. Work in 2015 and early 2016 included informational meetings at homes of congregation members and development of a phased funding plan. Preliminary design approval for the new building came from the city last August, with final bids coming in earlier this year and the groundbreaking set.

The new multi-purpose room will be the first step in the expansion, followed by remodeling of some other buildings on site and expansion of the sanctuary.

The total project cost is estimated at over $1.4 million. Figures from the Forward in Faith revenue show much of that – over $1.18 million – already raised for the project.

Forward in Faith team members include co-chairs Jerry Hougland and Jerry Barton, Corinne Thompson and Rick Guevara.

Team members offered praise for Onsager, pointing to his leadership and vision as contributing to the growth and continued strength of the Escalon Presbyterian family.

“This is exciting,” said Guevara, addressing the large crowd gathered for the Sunday ceremony. “You can feel the excitement, the buzz, of all that is happening in our church.”

After the first shovels full of dirt were turned, children of the congregation were invited forward to try their hand at it as well, with all then joining in for refreshments and fellowship.