Many of the congregations that partner with Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF) share a similar problem: their church buildings are too large and costly to maintain.
Not so for Champion Christian Church. Its building wasn’t big enough.
The Warren, Ohio congregation moved to their current location in the 1960s. All of the facilities were on one floor so, at the time, the building was very user-friendly.
Flash forward to 2014 and congregants didn’t have enough space to do community outreach. Their classrooms were used by Wonder Zone, the church’s daycare center, and the local Boy Scouts troop. The Boy Scouts also utilized the fellowship hall in the evenings, which they shared with Alcoholics Anonymous. There wasn’t a dedicated room for the youth ministry nor the quilting group. And, it wasn’t just the inadequate space for the community work that was a challenge; it was also the lack of storage space for these groups.
In response, the congregation voted to build a new multipurpose facility that could adequately house the ministries for children and youth. While that decision was a relatively easy one to make, the congregation was less sure about how to develop a plan for financing the facility.
This is when Disciples Church Extension Fund received a request for a General Consultation from the church’s pastor, Rev. Ken Hopkins. He decided to contact DCEF because the ministry “would know where the pitfalls are, and how to choose an architect and a contractor.” He wanted to partner with an organization that had experience and could discuss the processes required for a possible expansion.
Describing the consultation, Rev. Hopkins says,
“We talked about all of our needs and what would be appropriate to build. DCEF brought up things we wouldn’t have necessarily thought of. Their expertise was spot on.”
Maribeth Westerfield, DCEF’s former Vice President, worked with members of the church on the next steps. She recommended a capital campaign, a fundraising effort for a specific purpose – in this case, construction on what would soon be called the Disciple Center. After weighing all of their options and with Maribeth’s guidance, the congregation set an ambitious fundraising goal.
From 2015 to 2018, not only did the money come in as expected, but the amount raised exceeded the fundraising goal. On average, congregations working with DCEF raise 95 percent of their capital campaign goals.
Once Maribeth retired, current DCEF Vice President Belinda King stepped in to help with Building Planning, a DCEF service that reviews a congregation’s mission to determine potential implications for building requirements.
With a plan in place and money in hand, the church was able to get a DCEF construction loan. The seed money for the church’s project allowed it to build an entirely new building, which provided an additional 7,500 square feet.
Today, the children cared for by Wonder Zone have enough room to play, the youth group and the Boy Scouts each have their own rooms, and additional creative activities take place, including indoor “Trunk-or-Treat,” the Pinewood Derby, a snack-and-paint party, and Bible journaling. The church’s Feeding Ministry, which serves 100 households a month, now has two rooms, which enables it to keep the food it receives from Second Harvest on-site.
“The partnership with DCEF allowed us to re-purpose our space,” noted Rev. Hopkins. “We can plan for our congregation’s future. DCEF built up the confidence within us to do that. The shoe is not telling the foot what to do anymore.”