Talatha Baptist Church adds new building to accommodate growing services

Talatha Baptist Church is currently a construction site, as the church is adding a multipurpose building to accommodate its growth.  The building will be used as a fellowship hall and sanctuary, along with a lobby, kitchen and restrooms. The weekly Sunday congregation is growing at Talatha Baptist, and some were having to sit in an overflow room to watch and hear the sermon. The Rev. Jordan Bird added that longtime members were giving up seats for guests at services.  Along with new worship space, the church also needed a fellowship hall. Bird said when the church has meals, they have been accommodating people wherever they could: indoors, outdoors and in classrooms.

“It makes sense, and it’s going to meet our needs at a reasonable cost,” Jordan said about the new addition.

He said a lot of churches build gyms when they need to expand but then added that many churches build their gyms and then try to hide them; that the building is never really a multipurpose building, just a gym you can do other things in.

Before building anything, Talatha brought in an architect to discuss what was needed and to lay out the church and where the new building should go.  Ron Geyer, architect and principal at Good City Architects, helped bring Talatha’s vision to fruition. Good City Architects works exclusively with ministries.

“What they want is to do ministry better,” Geyer said.

He said it was important to Talatha to be honest about its Southern roots, and that the church had a strategy in mind but changed direction after meeting with him.

“They’re not changing what they’re about. They’re changing how they present it to the community,” Geyer said.

The new building is going to change the direction the front doors of the church face. Bird said the change will give a “new face” to the church.

“We ended up putting it in an unusual place,” Bird said about the building. “Most people wouldn’t have anything in front of their sanctuary closer to the main road.  That’s just not a thing that you do. It sort of communicates that you devalue the worship place, the sanctuary, but since this building is sanctuary space, what we did, we really just changed the direction of (the) front.”

The current sanctuary at Talatha holds around 175 people. The new building will seat around 300. There won’t be pews in the new building rather chairs that can be moved around or stored.

Talatha Baptist Church is one of the oldest churches in Aiken County. The original building was built around 1840. That building is eventually going to be moved to an area of the church’s property that makes it more visible.

Old Talatha Sanctuary“It’s about reminding us that we’re still the same little church believing the same gospel and the same God that that group of people 200 years ago believed when they started it here,” Bird said. “So it keeps us anchored in the unchanging timeless truth.

“You start to think that we all have this ability to become, how do you say, chronological snobs or historical snobs thinking that we’re better than the people that came before us and we’re not.”

Talatha Baptist Church is growing right now because it is sticking to what it knows. Bird said the church’s philosophy is “don’t change anything and go with it.”

“Simple verse and scripture from Romans chapter 10 says ‘Faith comes by hearing,’ so we are simply preaching scripture directly as it wants to be preached itself and sharing the gospel with our neighbors, telling them what Jesus has done,” he said.

The article “Talatha Baptist Church adds new building to accommodate growing services” by Lindsey Hodges first appeared in the Aiken Standard ( on September 3, 2017


Tryon Construction Begins

Workers from Clayton Construction are laying out the foundation for new bathrooms and a lobby enclosure at Tryon Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary.

Summer has been busy at the church campus, as the team works to complete the new building. The church sanctuary was donated by Frank McGregor in 1958 and designed by local architects Shannon Meriweather and Holland Brady. Its design included nautical references that honored McGregor’s sister, who died at sea en route to France while serving with the American Red Cross during World War I.

The new project is intended to preserve much of the original design. Good City Architects’ design will simplify the platform to allow greater flexibility, update finishes and lighting and improve access for members and visitors. The church plans to have construction complete in the fall.

This article appeared in the Tryon Daily Bulletin August 3, 2017.

Talatha Addition Under Construction

Talatha Baptist Church, in Aiken, SC, has begun construction of a new multipurpose building and expanded space for worship and children. The new space, designed by Good City Architects, an architecture and interior design firm based in Greenville, S.C., is part of the master plan developed by Good City last fall. It will create a new entrance for the Church, and include room for both worship and fellowship. Clifton Construction of Evans, Ga. has begun construction, which they expect to complete later this year.

The Southern Baptist congregation occupies about seven acres on Talatha Church Road and has enjoyed significant growth in the last few years. Talatha, founded in 1827, is one of the oldest churches in the Aiken Baptist Association and has been meeting at the current location since 1839.

“The Talatha congregation has greatly benefited from working closely with Good City Architects as God guides and grows our church,” said Jordan Bird, pastor. “We are enjoying watching building begin and are excited about how we can serve God and our community through our facilities.”

Buying Construction

A manufacturer of metal structures is selling buildings on our local radio stations, promising them for $50 a square foot. One can only imagine what the fine print or, for that matter, the building, includes. This may be the right choice for some, but how you buy a building – or hire a contractor – can and should match your organizations’ priorities.

The American Institute of Architects and The Associated General Contractors of America outline the primary options in a Primer on Project Delivery published in 2004:

  • The Design-Bid-Build method, sometimes thought of as “traditional” method, engages the three primary participants – Owner, Architect, and Contractor – through separate  and sequential contracts. Architect (and engineers) working for the Owner, prescriptive contract documents, upon which contractors base competitive, lump sum bids. The lowest (or in some cases “best value”) bid wins the bidder a contract for construction with the Owner.
  • In the Design-Build approach, a consolidated entity (the “Design-Builder”) provides both design and construction services to the owner. The design-build effort can be led by either the Architect or Contractor.
  • Construction Management at Risk [which include most “negotiated ” or “partnered ” projects] recognizes that contractors act as both builders and contract managers. The Contractor (who is the “CM@R”) is engaged early in the design period. Architect and Contractor have separate contracts with the Owner, and as the Architect develops the design, the Contractor weights in on cost, constructability, and cost issues. Near the end of the design period, the Contractor “guarantees” a maximum price for the project.

Comparison Shopping

The Design-Bid-Build method offers the greatest control over the final product, but with greater risk to cost and schedule. We like this one least. It’s a political process, designed to signal fairness – not to get the best price. (Hence its heavy use by governments.) The bid process incentivizes participants to interpret ambiguity in their favor and look for increases later. Gray turns to green. In so doing, it tends to create an adversarial environment. It also operates on a kind of cynicism, suggesting that the only effective reason for fairness is self-interest. The best contractors don’t like or need this kind of work and, if they have a choice, will avoid it.

Deciding to use a design-build contractor, of which the metal building peddlar first mentioned is the worst kind, communicates that cost is the pre-eminent issue. For some of us this may be the case, and it’s a good choice as long as we recognize that in doing so a great deal of control over the final product is surrendered. The designer now works for the builder, not for you. For the contractor, time spent with the Owner is a cost to be minimized. To the extent that the design-build contractor offers control of the product to the owner, much of the cost advantage dissipates.

In our experience, hiring a construction manager at risk offers a good balance of control for design and budget. The selection process usually involves looking at qualifications and interviews, but can result in a good match of values and personalities. Concerns about cost are answered by transparency and, if necessary, bidding at the subcontractor level. Since the Contractor is on the same “side ” of the table as the Owner, it’s in everyone’s interest to share the numbers ahead of time. Beware the builder who, under this scenario, fails to show how the cost is calculated.

We’ve used all three, and some others besides. If the right players are involved, the structure of the relationship doesn’t matter much. Nor does it matter much if the wrong players are on the team. You can’t make a “bad” Contractor (or Architect) “good” by choosing the right contract. But how you buy your buildings can – and should – communicate your church’s priorities.

Potty Talk

Have you ever turned to leave a public restroom and realized you were going to grab a handle crawling with critters? You’re not wrong. A Soap and Detergent Association and American Society for Microbiology study showed 34 percent of men and 12 percent of women don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. If visitors to your church have the same concerns, those misgivings may bias or amplify questions about you and your ministry.

If the room is clean, is bigger than it has to be, or has some special touch like a flower on the counter, they’ll often decide that we know how to do things right and be open to learning more about us. If they have a bad experience, we’ll never get a second chance.

A successful real estate developer once told me that “bathrooms are more important to sales than the showroom. A family often stops at our place just to give themselves a break and look around. If the restroom is clean, is bigger than it has to be, or has some special touch like a flower on the counter, they’ll often decide that we know how to do things right and be open to learning more about us. If they have a bad experience, we’ll never get a second chance.”

In response to concerns about hygiene, resourceful people have invented “pinky pulls”, handles that can be operated with an elbow, automatic door openers, foot pedals, and sprayers that disinfect the handle on a regular basis. But there are simpler ways to get bathrooms right. Here are a “handful”.

Door Swings. Seems obvious, but apparently it’s not: swing doors outward, or in the case of separate entrances and exits, in the same direction as the path of travel. This allows occupants to push with coat sleeves or elbows to avoid contact with the hardware.

Gender Inequality. Truth is, women do more stuff and take longer to do it. There’s really no excuse for providing the same number of fixtures for each.

One-Way Traffic. In the case of large restrooms, consider designing for one-way traffic by providing entrances and exits. Because of the differences in fixture numbers required for women and men, I sometimes wrap the women’s restroom around the men’s room. Easing traffic can have nearly as big an effect on wait time as adding fixtures.

Crunch Time. Demand for restrooms will be greater with multiple services or sessions. With a single session, participants sometimes “go” before or after, and do so at home or wherever they’re headed next. Just like at the theatre, there’ll be a big rush in a short period of time if you have an intermission.

Sight Lines. Think about what can be seen from the hallway with the door open. It’s amazing how many layouts offer scenic views of the urinals from the lobby (and vice versa). It’s best to imagine what things would look like if there were no door, since a moving screen doesn’t offer much comfort to occupants. Arrange the room to avoid straight-shot views of sinks or stalls and to avoid inappropriate views reflected in vanity mirrors.

European Stalls. We’ve only tested it once, but consider using European type stalls that include both water closet and lavatory in a full-height enclosure. The difference in space is less than you think and the increase in privacy is significant.

Changing Tables. Provide changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms. Daddy does diapers, too.

Family Toilets. Consider including a “Family Toilet.” (Some Building Codes now require it.) These are essentially unisex handicapped toilets in addition to the usual single gender facilities. They’re not a political statement. They allow Mommies to help young sons, Daddies to help little daughters, and older couples to assist each other.

Shelving. If you encourage people at your church to carry Bibles or take notes, provide shelves over the urinals and over tankless water closets. Toilet accessory manufacturers make standard units, but anything will do. In the worst case scenario, provide a common place to pile things at the entrance. I like the idea of a shelf just above the vanity, too. Water and soap on counters can damage books, paper and purses.

Grout. Don’t use white or light colored grout between tiles. If you do, it won’t stay that way long. Might as well do it on purpose.

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Church Renovation Creates Warm Welcome

Standing in the parking lot of Taylors First Baptist Church, it is evident why Dr. Paul Jimenez is excited about the recent addition to the sprawling property at 200 West Main Street in Taylors.

Under his leadership, the Church, which just celebrated its 15o-­year anniversary, opened its newly renovated welcome center on December 4th, a space between the main sanctuary and other resource rooms and offices. It hadn’t been updated in 20 years.

The goal of creating an identifiable welcome space for visitors and a meeting and information hub for the con­gregation was accomplished and more, according to the pastor.

“I’m just thrilled and I think it has accomplished all that we wanted it to accomplish, but it’s done in such a beautiful way,” he said. “As our people are engaging in the lives of other people, we want to create an environment where people are welcomed.”

The road to renovations began more than a year ago when church leadership began accepting contributions and, though initially short of its original goal, the church secured a design with the help of Good City Architects, an architecture and interior design firm in the city. On the outside, trees were removed to create a more open walkway. Inside, interior walls were knocked down and carpet was removed to make for a more open space.

But with every monetary decision, there are opinions on where to best allocate funds. “The decision wasn’t unanimous, and some people said the space we had was functioning well, so why would it need to change?”

Still, Jimenez is proud of the ways the donations were used. While about 55 percent went to the construction of the center, he said 30 percent went to alleviate debt and 15 percent went to missions, with the church sending 415 people on mission trips in the past two years.

“The people of Taylors have given generously to create and expand its welcoming capacity to a facility that matches their heart,” he said. “You should see what it looks like on Sunday.”

“Church renovation creates a warm welcome” by Contributing Writer Tesalon Felicien first appeared in the Greater Greer News on December 28, 2016.

Talatha Baptist Church completes Master Plan

Good City Architects has completed a master planning exercise called DayONE to help Talatha Baptist Church develop a strategy for growth as it continues to serve South Aiken.

The congregation occupies about six acres on Talatha Church Road. Despite its history as one of the older churches in the Aiken Baptist Association, Talatha has seen significant growth in the last few years.

The DayONE planning process identified Talatha’s vision and goals, translating them into a master plan for development in just one or two days. Talatha envisions a new multipurpose building and expanded space for worship and children. Good City and Clifton Construction of Evans, Ga. have begun work on a detailed design for Phase I.

“The Talatha congregation has enjoyed working closely with Good City Architects as God guides and grows our church,” said Jordan Bird, pastor. “We feel that the created plan represents where God is leading our church and community. We look forward to all He has in store for us as we serve Him.”

To learn more about Talatha Baptist Church, visit

Westminster Presbyterian Church selects Good City Architects and McMillan Pazdan Smith to prepare Master Plan

Good City Architects has joined forces with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture to develop a plan for accommodating growth in ministry and attendance at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg.

Westminster, a member of the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO), occupies nearly five acres on Fernwood Drive between Emory and Pineville Roads, where it has met since 1962. Attendance has increased steeply in recent years, prompting a review of the Church’s property. Through a concentrated process called DayONE™, Good City translated the Church’s vision and goals into a master plan to make the best use of existing buildings and identify new requirements.

“As a church family, we want to glorify God above all as He continues to grow our fellowship,” said Kent Miller, a church elder who chairs Westminster’s Administration Commission. “As we looked toward long-range planning, we needed guidance to establish our vision into the best plan to use our campus for fulfilling our ultimate purpose.”

“The expert architects with whom we chose to work have led us through a thorough planning process that expands upon Westminster’s desire to experience genuine Christian community and warmly welcome each person to find a place to grow spiritually and serve passionately for many years to come,” added Dr. Paul Petersen, Senior Pastor.

To learn more about Westminster Presbyterian Church, visit

State Street Baptist Church begins renovations

State Street Baptist Church has started construction on renovations intended to improve the experience for visitors entering the church and improve access to the entire campus.

State Street, founded in 1941, is located next to Brookland-Cayce High School, between Lafayette and Karlaney Avenues. A site plan by American Engineering Consultants of Cayce adds parking on property behind the church and a landscaped courtyard in the middle of the campus. Good City’s design creates a new visitor entrance and adds an elevator for better access to the sanctuary and fellowship hall. Other changes will improve security for children.

“The Master Planning process allowed us to seek God’s direction for future ministry and really assess how our campus can be an effective witness for Christ in the future,” said Jacque Wenger, chair of the long-range planning committee at State Street Baptist. “Our current renovations will not only provide needed upgrades to our infrastructure, but include physical changes to our campus that will provide an identifiable and welcoming “starting point” for guests, reliable accessibility for older and younger individuals and families to enter our worship facility and fellowship area, and a safer environment for children.”

“We want our renovations to result in strengthening worship and nurture within our congregation while serving our community,” added Pastor Chet Andrews. “Our ultimate goal is to provide a place for building relationships with all generations as we grow together in our relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Work is expected to take about six months. Weber Construction of Irmo, SC is the general contractor. To learn more about State Street Baptist Church, visit

Renovations coming to Advent UMC

Advent United Methodist Church is set for a $3 million addition as well as renovations to the church facilities which are located in the Five Forks area of Simpsonville.

While the plans began being discussed three years ago, Advent Senior Pastor Michael Turner saw the evidence for needed expansion just the past Sunday. The church offers two traditional services and a contemporary service each Sunday morning.

“We have been bursting at the seams during our contemporary service and it’s been that way for a while,” said Turner, who added that 440 people attended last week’s contemporary service. “This past Sunday, we had to bring in chairs and ask people to get a little closer to make room for others.”

Turner said the budget for the entire makeover is $4.2 million. Good City Architects and Trehel Corporation, both based in Greenville, will be handling design work and construction, respectively.

“After a successful generosity initiative, we are glad to be moving forward with the project,” Turner said. “Good City Architects has brought ideas to help us use our buildings to reach part of Greenville that doesn’t show any sign of slowing its growth.”

The renovations will expand worship seating and create a new space for connecting with worshippers. A 15,000-square foot addition will house a 3,000-square-foot connecting space, new offices and a new music suite. Changes to the sanctuary will nearly double its seating capacity. The platform will be reconfigured to accommodate a growing choir and better provide space for a contemporary band.

Turner hopes that a new indoor gathering space with amenities such as coffee will generate more relationships between church members who attend different services on Sunday mornings. Currently there’s a small outdoor quad that folks coming to and leaving services pass by each other in. It’s not conducive for long conversations on rainy spring, hot summer or cold winter mornings.

“We hope this new area will provide a much larger space for chance meetings to happen,” Turner said. “Those are really important for discipleship. We know we grow in our relationship with God in conjunction with growing in relationship with other people.”

The ever-growing Five Forks region has helped created a need for the church’s expansion. Turner said a key point of the changes will affect the children’s ministry. He said the renovated education building will become “as engaging as possible for children’s ministry.”

“The demographics have told us that even though this area (growth) is going to slow down a little bit because there’s only so much more growth that can happen, it’s still going to grow much faster than the national average,” Turner said. “In our five-mile radius, the fastest-growing demographic is children under 12.”

Turner said the project will begin with a groundbreaking on the new building out front in October. Following Advent’s six worship services on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas Day, renovations will begin in the sanctuary. Turner said Sunday services will then shift to the gymnasium for a period of three to four months. At the end of the school year, renovations on the education building will begin.

This article first appeared at on August 19, 2016 in a story by Scott Keeler