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Forums focus on facility space

One of the exciting challenges that come with a growing ministry is providing adequate space to keep it growing.

During two Sunday afternoons in January, HMBC members gathered in Fellowship Hall to become better informed on our situation, and to provide the church council with feedback and direction.

The first family forum, Jan. 10, featured a presentation by the Facilities Assessment Team, which was appointed by the council about two and a half years ago to document space issues that might be hindering present and future ministry. About Members of the team for the initial study were Dar rell Driggers (chair), Brian Allen, Bev Vogel, Janet Hein, Jeremy Loewen, Clint Seibel, Clyde Jost and Rita Bartel. Their primary task was to focus on short-term needs and solutions.

In February 2015, the team was asked to address long-term needs as well, given present growth trends and ministry vision. Jimmy Janzen and Kim Kaufman replaced Brian Allen, Bev Vogel, Janet Hein and Jeremy Loewen as team members.

The team completed its work in June and shared the results with the council. In preparation for the Jan. 10 family forum, the team published a summary of its conclusions, a copy of which was placed in each church mailbox.

In short, the team reported we are squeezed for space at almost every ministry level: Kids Connection as well as Sunday and midweek ministries involving children, youth and adults, plus storage needs.

As our pastoral staff projected ministry goals for the next 10 years, current space was considered inadequate to accommodate growth—whether it be number of rooms or adequately sized rooms. We also lack appropriate office and storage space for staff.

Beyond the facility itself, the assessment team noted the need for a second exit from the campus to expedite traffic flow and additional parking spaces based on the concept of “comfort capacity” — a term that applies to reaching unchurched adults. New comers tend to stay away when gathering spaces ranging from classrooms to parking lots are at 80 percent capacity or higher. They are uncomfortable sharing tight spaces with people they don’t really know.

The focus of the Jan. 17 forum, attended by about 85 people on a frigid day, was to receive feedback from the congregation. Participants asked a variety of good questions with an open mind and seemed to appreciate the opportunity for dialogue.

Toward the end of the second forum, Moderator Brad Bartel asked for a “straw poll” regarding a council recommendation to engage an architect to develop a conceptual plan for expansion, based on the team’s report. A solid majority of those present indicated support for seeking an architect. Funding designated for capital improvements will be used, which will not impact our church’s operations budget.

The conceptual plan should help the congregation visualize possible space solutions, ideas for future ministry and an initial sense of the cost. Council has said any expansion project would be at the congregation’s direction and likely would be pursued in phases. —Don Ratzlaff

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