For several years now, the increasing need for space has become more and more evident. The strain of our current building and the possibilities of the property on which it rests have become topics of conversation. The need to build a building has seemed an easy and obvious next step.
But in guarding our church’s unity and mission, we have insisted that we move in prayerful intentionality rather than speedy practicality. While we are running out of space, we remember that we are the church, with or without a building.
This process has been slow, but formative. At every turn, whether in Vestry meetings or Parish Forums, there has been a remarkable consensus that the time is right to bring these two realities together. How do we increase our actual space and develop our property, not so we can become something we have not already been, but so we can grow into more of what God has already created us to be? The Mission Abbey has become a picture of what our Mission & Personality look like if they were covered in grass and stone and wood.
The first step toward the development of our Mission Abbey will be to construct its central piece: the Nave. Both in symbol and in reality, the focus of Phase 1 addresses our immediate needs for space and reminds us of our core mission as a church in the structure and layout of campus. Entrance into this structure directs our collective heart and gaze forward to the altar, reminding us once again that we are first and foremost a Eucharistic community. All healing, all family life, all formation, all service and generosity flow from this reality. As such, it is the central element of the property.
The Nave will include a narthex, a hospitality area, a nursery, bathrooms, the worship area, and behind it vesting rooms and a sacristy. Currently, the Nave is designed to be a little over 15,000 square feet, holding around 350 people, with the possibility of one day finishing out a balcony that would seat an additional 50 people. The projected cost of the project is in the $3 million range, which includes site development, two new parking lots, and all the furnishings and equipment.
Naturally, as we share in God’s life around this altar, as we build the church, we change the community around us. Once the Nave is complete, our current building will become a place for us to better accommodate current ministry and service efforts as well as grow in our capacity to engage in new forms of service. We gain the room we have not had to share meals together as well as the ability to offer more space to other ministries and organizations.
The Mission Abbey forces us to remember that corporate worship is not only during Holy Eucharist but in all our kingdom efforts. This additional space in effect becomes a laboratory for current and new ministries, the results of which will influence how we realize the future of the Mission Abbey vision.