Church steps out in faith to build $7m worship centre
The Presbyterian Church in the South Auckland village of Clevedon (a town in New Zealand; see picture below) has paid $1.2 million for 8ha of rural land on which it hopes to build a $7 million “worship centre”.
The church is more than $200,000 short of funds to pay for the land, half the cost of the land was raised by selling a church asset. It has no money to build the new worship centre but the minister, Mark Chapman, believes it will get it. He considers the development a work of faith.
The proposed worship centre, for which Manakau City Council planning permission will be sought, will double as an auditorium for performing arts, community programmes, or “anything the community could need a larger venue for”. It would seat between 500-800 depending on council regulations.
An information centre, café and bookshop are also proposed as well as a lake and picnic areas. Existing ministries and programmes, “geared towards families”, would expand and shift to the 8ha lot. The church was drawing numbers at close to capacity.
A secondary vision of Mr Chapman’s is to provide a place of refreshment and inspiration for ministers and pastors of all branches of the church, “a place for them to be inspired and healed and restored to their God given calling.
“We are non-judgmental believing that God has called us to be a place where anyone can come and feel safe spiritually,” Mr Chapman said. “We believe the overriding direction is Jesus’ command that we ‘love one another’, and all people, ‘as He loved us.’
“This vision to be a place of hope and inspiration and love for all has been growing in my heart for over 20 years.”
The growing size of the church had also prompted the move.
Mr Chapman said that under Presbyterian Church policy, 50 per cent of the project’s cost must be covered before it could borrow money. After the church sought permission from the city council to develop the site they would “put out” the plan.
“We are looking at professional fundraising and trying to attract the interest of people who might feel this is a project that they could put their money into.
“All our ministries have reached the point that there is no space left to carry them out effectively. Growth has reached a level where you cannot get any new members, and you cannot grow anymore because the space won’t allow it.”
Mr Chapman said growth happened through the church’s service in the community, “no strings attached”, aimed at helping community meet needs which has meant the expansion of the church is needed because “people have been drawn to it”. Half of these had been church leavers attracted to the church.
Two-hundred adults worshiped in the church, built in 1957, as well as children and youth. Three services are held each Sunday. “Even though the church is in the country it draws a lot people as far away as Fox beach, Howick, Manurewa, and Papakura,” Mr Chapman said.
Descendants of early settlers remained in the Clevedon district and in the church, and the church was “stepping forward with the same courage and conviction that founded the church in 1858” with a new vision.
In 1859, the church had established a day school and a public library which were transferred over to national and local government.
Mr Chapman said he wanted his church to be a place of life, inspiration, grace, refreshment, and healing.
“The programmes we run, that’s our mission, that’s our evangelism. We hope that people look at our lives and look at what we are doing and ask why?”
By Peter Veugelaers.
Published 2006, Challenge Weekly.