How did we arrive at this vision for Covenant Next?
Covenant Next has been in the works for years! Over the past 20 years, several task forces have assessed whether our facility was meeting current ministry needs and designed to meet perceived future needs.
Recently, the Facelift Task Force, led by Travis Overstreet and comprised of Cheryl Altinkemer, Terry Echard, Heidi Harner, Jerry Miller, Daniel Pierce, Kurt and Julie Williams, Jim Wilson, and Grace Woodard, looked at needed updates to our spaces. This team quickly widened their focus to identify improvements to encourage greater relational connections, increase engagement in worship, and support our enhanced emphasis on the next generation.
This team made specific recommendations to reimagine some of our most important spaces. The pastoral/lead staff and Session reviewed their work and prioritized their ideas. One of the first ideas we acted on was to create the deck on our front lawn. Now we want to replicate the “linger longer” experiences we enjoy on the deck by creating similar indoor spaces.
Also, during the past 10 years we have seen a significant increase in the number of people and organizations outside Covenant that use our facility. Outside groups include local churches and ministries, community organizations, music and dramatic arts groups, various classes (e.g., Zumba, etc.) and even private parties. This continues to be an important part of Covenant’s ministry and very much part of the vision for Covenant Next as we hope to welcome even more people to our campus to extend Christ’s love in multiple ways!
Why do we need a comprehensive campaign to accomplish these projects?
Each of the identified projects is important to current and future Covenant ministry. It is more cost effective and the timeline is streamlined if we approach this effort as a whole (e.g., reduced costs for building supplies, multiple projects carried out at once, etc.). Additionally, it allows the Covenant family to see the project as one thoughtful effort and prayerfully consider how they can be part of bringing it to completion.
Covenant has not met budget during the last three years, and staff has not received a raise in three years. We also understand there is an effort to reorganize staff. How can we raise money for a capital campaign given these circumstances?
We do not want this project to impact our annual budget and ask that any gifts for Covenant Next be above and beyond tithes and offerings given toward the annual budget. We feel this building project is an overdue and essential component to meeting Covenant’s ministry goals and so are embarking in faith on creating these revitalized spaces.
In regards to staffing, as with any healthy organization, we regularly need to consider what people and resources are needed to carry out our mission. For the church, this includes staff and lay leaders. Just as families and businesses must regularly evaluate their needs and adjust their budgets accordingly, so must Covenant. With the decline in giving, we have to evaluate how best to maintain our facility and provide the staff to carry out effective ministry.
About 60-65% of our annual budget is directed towards staff salaries and benefits. Our budget needs to be based on the actual annual giving from the congregation, and we have seen declines in both members/attendees and general giving for several years. As faithful stewards of what God provides and the ministry to which He calls us, there will be times that the staff team needs to be adjusted to reflect both congregational giving and members/attenders.
We are also carefully considering what responsibility Covenant has to its faithful and effective staff when giving declines.
Impact on Ministries
How will Covenant’s ministries be impacted by this project?
René Maule, children's ministry director:
Children's Ministry has long needed a place of welcome for families where they can check in their children and connect with other families. The dark, narrow, downstairs hallways are not welcoming and can feel intimidating for families, especially those who haven't been in the building before for Kids Alive, Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), etc.
Right now, children and adults have nowhere to sit and talk, and groups having conversations often block the halls as they connect with each other. We are excited to provide a friendlier, more age-appropriate space for these families! By improving our entry areas both upstairs and downstairs, families from Covenant, Kids Alive and MOPS will feel welcome and clearly see how we value children and the next generation. Also, our check-in process will be easier and more welcoming.
Jenn Sanson, student ministry director:
I am always looking for places to meet with students. We have a lovely meeting place in the Retreat Center, and yet a more intimate setting is better when smaller groups meet. In particular, I am really looking forward to the hospitality area and coffee station.
In the past, a high school popular event was Coffee and Questions. We met at a local coffee shop and students asked hard questions about faith and life in a safe, warm environment. It was great! But we also had so many barriers to overcome: the expense of the coffee, transportation to an offsite place, finding a space large enough to meet, and communicating the details. With the new hospitality space, I see bringing back our Coffee and Questions event, without all the barriers! I think the coffee station and hospitality area will be a huge asset to student ministry.
Rob Eyman, pastor for discipleship & congregational care:
While those engaged in discipling relationships can effectively meet in many locations, often the conversation requires a higher level of privacy. Expanding Covenant's welcoming areas through Covenant Next will provide a public and yet safe-feeling space which opens the way for those necessary and deeper conversations.
Christie Keen, women's ministry director and ministry coordinator for community life:
I'm excited about the Covenant Next project and how it will help community life at Covenant! Small groups will be able to meet in our new, welcoming hospitality area. Many of the gatherings will happen organically - like moms who drop their children at Kids Alive Preschool or Covenant Cove Childcare, or friends on a walk who spontaneously decide to sit, share coffee and a bit of their lives.
We've seen how the Covenant family uses the deck on Sundays and throughout the week. The Covenant Next project will create an indoor space that allows for informal, yet important, gathering spaces available no matter the weather. The Sanctuary changes will bless women's and men's ministries as well, since the new chairs will allow us to configure the room in different ways while taking advantage of the audio visual capabilities in that space. These enhancements to our space will provide more opportunities for the Covenant family to connect with each other and those whom God places around us.
Travis Overstreet, pastor for worship arts:
Covenant’s Worship Arts Ministry has utilized our platform for some amazing things! From full-scale musicals with huge sets, to ballet, to drama, to children's camps - the list is endless! But those amazing transformations require a herculean effort involving hundreds of hours of labor and lots of resources for fabrication and construction. Then we have no place to store anything we build.
A transforming platform allows us to easily create new, beautiful and varied looks in our worship space. From choir and orchestra-led worship services, to Bible studies, to drama or student worship, we will be able to easily match the aesthetics of our visual platform space to the event we are doing without the labor and cost-intensive requirements.
These small, mechanical and aesthetic changes to our platform area will ensure we will continue to be a leading light for worship arts in our community. See Travis's blog post for more information.
Brently Jordan, pastor for community life:
I believe part of the value of meeting together for worship on Sunday mornings is not only encountering God through songs, prayer, and teaching, but encountering the Spirit of God through conversations with one another. This project will bring helpful improvements to the hospitality area just outside the Sanctuary.
This renovated space will facilitate the practice of men and women lingering on Sunday mornings for conversation. Our prayer is that they would encounter the Spirit of God in one another as they linger and share. A second point regarding community life - this renovated hospitality area will provide a welcoming space for men and women to meet throughout the week for conversation and prayer.
Julie Williams, missions coordinator:
The Missions Leadership Team is looking forward to the completion of the Covenant Next project! The dedicated area at the back of the Sanctuary and the coffee station and hospitality area will be perfect for hosting our yearly Missions Sunday and individual missionary visits. We have often regretted that conversations with visiting missionaries at their displays have to be cut short so the next service is not disturbed. Also, the larger area spreading down into the lower reception area will allow for more displays, more conversations, and a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.
We look forward to using the hospitality area for meetings during the week. It will be a great place to catch up with local ministries/missionaries as well as visiting missionaries. In addition, the new configuration of the Sanctuary and added upstairs bathrooms will be much more conducive to hosting large conferences and classes. We are ready to celebrate Covenant Next and welcome everyone!
How will our outdoor project impact what we do inside the church?
We are so encouraged by what the new deck provides to our neighborhood and church family—a wonderful opportunity to linger longer with each other! As the weather begins to turn colder, we look forward to bringing this same experience into our building, providing warm and welcoming spaces to gather for worship and to continue to connect relationally with one another. We also expect our coffee station will be used by some of our 92 neighbor families that live around Covenant’s campus.
The outdoor deck was paid for by semi-restricted financial gifts (not budget dollars), and largely built by the tremendous volunteer effort of the Helping Hands Ministry. We give a big round of applause for this group and for members of our congregation who generously contribute gifts for projects like this!
As noted earlier, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people and organizations outside Covenant that use our facility. This continues to be an important part of Covenant’s ministry and very much part of the vision for Covenant Next as we hope to welcome even more people to our campus to extend Christ’s love in multiple ways to them!
Are we hurting Children’s Ministry and other Covenant ministries by losing two current classroom spaces?
Covenant has many spaces that can be used for multiple purposes. We are confident that we can meet our needs for classrooms now and into the foreseeable future after we make these improvements. Moving our primary places to connect relationally to the main floor opens up more of Gathering Place 1 & 2 for classes and other gatherings.
Timeline and Impact on Community Life
The Covenant Family Says...
Covenant Family members share their perspective of Covenant Next: