“I know your works,” says the Lord. “Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Revelation 3:8
In 2009, our congregation identified and prioritized our needs to respond to the significant growth we have enjoyed in attendance and membership. These needs were envisioned to be addressed chronologically in three groups. The first would address 1) children and infants, 2) youth ministries, 3) adult ministries, 4) staff space, and 5) expanded fellowship and worship space. The second would address 1) children’s ministries, 2) gathering space, 3) kitchen remodeling, and 4) expanded parking. A third goal would consider a new second and larger sanctuary.
Soon afterward, our congregation voted to purchase the Discipleship Center (DC), add parking and landscaping, and create a gathering space for coffee and fellowship by moving offices to the DC. With the additional space for our youth ministry in the DC, our confirmation and youth ministries have seen significant growth. With the added adult education space in the DC, we have seen an increased use of those facilities.
With the creation of our gathering space in the Worship Center (WC) we have experienced wonderful growth in fellowship that matches our increase in worship attendance. All of this has led to an increase in our confirmed member/disciples of 30%. More impressively, the percentage of confirmed member/disciples attending worship has grown from 35% to 55%. This has been matched by a doubling of the number of children in our Kid’s Club Sunday School (pre-K thru 6th grade) and significant growth in participation in Vacation Bible School.
Every week we have visitors at St. Mark. We continue to grow – and we continue to grow younger. In the past several years, average weekly worship attendance has grown from 275 to nearly 800. Projections are we could grow to 1,000 in attendance in a few years, continue to serve our families as well as welcome others that God will send us, grow our fellowship opportunities and strengthen discipleship at St. Mark.
Since the remodeling of our Worship Space in 2005 and the acquisition of the DC, we have accomplished most of the first set of priorities and some of the second. And, we have paid down approximately $2 million on our cumulative debt.
God’s Open Door Capital Campaign and Building Project
In 2011, a Study Group began considering available options to further address our remaining priorities – to update our present facilities and provide for recent and future growth. Our present Fellowship Hall in the Worship Center (WC) will accommodate about 100 persons for sit-down events. Staging our annual youth auction and stewardship breakfast, as well as funeral receptions and other events, is increasingly difficult due to limited space. The kitchen was small and outdated, and we needed and wanted to bring everything up to code – including new handicap accessible bathrooms, sprinklers, and new heating and air conditioning.
The Study Group concluded that the more distant dream of an additional larger sanctuary as part of a new separate building, primarily for contemporary worship services, would be many years in the future due to financial considerations and was set aside. Instead, it was decided to immediately focus on a combination fellowship and contemporary worship space with adequate size to accommodate our anticipated growth. By holding traditional worship services in the present sanctuary and contemporary services in the new space, it would be possible to add an additional Sunday contemporary service by overlapping as we have done with Easter services in the past.
The Study Group’s initial plan was to demolish the “old” west part of the WC (the fellowship hall, classrooms, kitchen and restrooms) and construct a new building addition on the east side of the WC. Conceptual drawings and estimated costs were developed and in 2012, the congregation voted to launch a new capital campaign, God’s Open Door, to help finance the new building project. While this campaign has been the most successful campaign in the history of our congregation, with the most people involved, it became apparent the contemplated design was a little too ambitious.
The Revised Plan
Toward the middle of 2013, the Study Group began evaluating a second option. In lieu of constructing an entirely new addition (or just repairing or remodeling the “old space” for that matter) a new option to consider what could be done with our present facility to make it more attractive and useable looked to be the most cost effective solution to meet our remaining needs.
This concept was to “reconstruct” the “old space” in four steps. Another vote of the congregation approved moving ahead by securing adequate financing and adopting the most optimal plan which would achieve this goal. A Building Guidance Team was appointed, along with a number of Input Teams, all made up of member/disciples to consider options and finalize plans. The Teams have been meeting with FEH, the architectural firm responsible for developing necessary drawings and specifications.
Step 1, which is now complete, remodeled the DC to provide all new functional classrooms and an activity area for our grades 1-6 children.
Step 2, which is also now complete, constructed all new classroom space for kids, ages 3-5, all new restrooms, new heating and cooling equipment and a completely new and relocated kitchen.
Depending on timing of our cash flow, Step 3 will begin to totally reconstruct the existing Fellowship Hall and other spaces into a beautiful new Fellowship and Contemporary Worship area with an all new roof-line and interior.
Finally, Step 4 at some point will enclose the existing courtyard to become an attractive multi-purpose gathering space located essentially between the traditional and contemporary worship areas.
While it may appear we are not adding that much additional space, we are achieving a much more efficient use of existing space and, importantly, bringing the entire campus up to current building codes including fire sprinkler systems, modern kitchen equipment and handicap accessibility. And we have replaced our 50+ year old boiler system with all new heating and cooling equipment.
Conceptual drawings of all these plans are available for viewing. There is also a display which is tracking the progress of each step. These are set up in the courtyard area by the nursery in the WC and also in the lobby of the DC. Periodic updates are included here on the website, in the weekly bulletins and newsletters, and videos during services.
It will be necessary to launch an extension of God’s Open Door Capital Campaign to support moving on with Step 3 and plans are now being formulated to do so. This is an exciting time for St. Mark, and with God’s help and the participation of all member/disciples we will continue to build and enjoy a new, safe and attractive space to live out our mission to Grow in Faith, Share Jesus Christ and Serve Others.