BLYTHEWOOD—An era of growth has begun at Transfiguration Church.
In January, the parish kicked off a capital campaign to raise funds for a new worship space.
Currently, Mass is held in one wing of the church’s main building, which is also called the parish life center. The sanctuary seats about 300 people and is often bursting at the seams at Sunday Mass.
Father Andrew Trapp, pastor, said proposed designs would provide seating for about 600 people and offer a “more reverent, traditionally Catholic atmosphere” that some parishioners requested.
The structure will be connected to the current building. Once it is completed, the area that now houses the church will be converted to classrooms for rapidly growing religious education programs and meeting space for social activities.
Plans call for the new space to be ready in about three years. The project will cost an estimated $2 million, and so far about $1.2 million has been pledged.
Father Trapp said converting the former church sanctuary to classrooms will finally allow all of the parish programs to be concentrated in one building instead of spreading out around the parish property on the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Pines Road.
Transfiguration was established in 1998 in the rapidly growing northeast section of Columbia. Initially, about 80 families worshipped in borrowed spaces, including an auditorium at Blythewood Academy. The current building was dedicated in 2004.
Now, the parish serves about 300 households, including military families from nearby Fort Jackson and a growing number of retirees moving into the area. Some of the growth is also a result of a strong community evangelization project that Father Trapp started when he arrived. Transfiguration runs monthly ads about Catholic topics in local newspapers and holds an annual door-to-door outreach, with parishioners handing out announcements about Lenten fish fries and other activities.
The Friday fish dinners, hosted by the Knights of Columbus, are evidence of the parish’s growing presence. When they started about 10 years ago, they drew about 100 people. This year, however, more than 300 have been served each week.
“We’re wall to wall during those fish fries — people are standing,” said parishioner Ed Hogue, who is chairman of the capital campaign.
Hogue moved to Columbia in 1971 and is a founding member of the parish. He remembers when Blythewood was a quiet rural town. Now, what used to be peaceful country roads are lined with crowded subdivisions, and more growth continues.
“I really believe in what we’re doing,” Hogue said. “A priest I knew once said our goal is not to just go to heaven, but to take somebody with you, to reach out to others and bring them to the Church. That is truly what we’re doing. We started off very small and now we’re growing, and I have the privilege to be part of it.”
Photo provided: An initial drawing shows one possibility for the interior of Transfiguration Church in Blythewood.