After purchasing this new property, we found many old problems, such as water in the basement, a leaking roof, a dreadful sound system, faded and worn out carpeting, crumbling brickwork and unsafe stairs. The question was—what do we address first?
Multiple internal improvements in the kitchen, stairways, and sanctuary made a huge difference to our appearance and functionality, but we needed to figure out how to raise funds for even bigger improvements. We knew we would need professional help to guide us in changing our accessibility.
Our next question was—how are we going to amend the building? We only had so much space to work with, what could we do? Many ideas were shared, but nothing seemed feasible, and it was difficult to envision the finished product.
A vision statement adopted in 2011 propelled us to action: “As a Mennonite community, seeking to follow Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we will be embracing, engaging, growing.”
A committee outlined a four-phase plan of desired improvements and a preliminary budget of $200,000 for Phase 1. They pointed out that historic low mortgage rates and a construction slump made this an ideal time for a building project.
A second committee developed a plan for fundraising. They challenged our congregation to commit 2% of building campaign funds raised to the Global Church Sharing Fund administered by Mennonite World Conference. As a congregation, we are making pledges ($85,000.00 to date) toward an anonymous matching gift of $100,000.00. We have received an additional anonymous foundation gift, and are still developing fund raisers to help garner the remainder. Everence approved our new loan and we were able to start the renovations.
We improved the sound system, adding an audiovisual system that includes assistive listening devices. The roof was tuckpointed and sealed, the basement was waterproofed, and ground was broken to change the face of our building forever.
It was a delight to have the front entrance complete for our 40th Anniversary celebration this past October, so that many former members who made it to the gathering could join in celebration of what we had achieved. Our new front entrance has secure handrails, solid steps, bright lights, and a lift that accesses the basement, outside, and sanctuary levels.
Keith and Christine make use of the new lift
Outreach to the neighborhoods surrounding our church building has been an important ministry for over fifteen years. We serve a Community Meal twice a month to eighty or more neighbors, many of whom attend regularly and have become like a second congregation. Food is always free, seconds are available, and take-outs, too. Photos of regular attenders hang on the walls, birthday parties are celebrated, and an occasional memorial service honors a neighbor who died with no other church home.
Our Community Meal and church services can now host neighbors, visitors, and congregants with physical challenges who can enter our facility on their own, with dignity intact. Our dream has come to fruition!