It has been some time since the members of O’Fallon First United Methodist Church voted (June 11, 2018) to move forward with the vision “1 Church – 2 Locations,” with an eye toward building a new church facility on the property at Milburn Road. Since then, we have been making steady progress toward that goal. Recently, our work with Chiodini Architecture has been picking up steam, and we are getting close to having plans to present to the congregation.
In designing our new building, we were encouraged to start by dreaming big, before prioritizing and narrowing down those dreams to fit into a realistic budget for our congregation. We were also encouraged to develop an anticipated schedule for Sunday mornings and the rest of the week. After weeks of dreaming, prioritizing, analyzing needs, and exploring alternative ideas, we have narrowed down what we believe we need in a Phase 1 building project, with the potential for a Phase 2 at a later date.
What we have asked Chiodini for is a building that will include:
We made these requests based on a proposed Sunday schedule that would include three individual worship services in our sanctuary: one traditional, one contemporary, and one convergent. It was always our intention to create a single worship space, so we no longer need to hold concurrent worship services. We are choosing to begin with three services to accommodate as many people in our congregation as possible.
This proposed worship schedule will mean we no longer offer a stand-alone Sunday School hour. Instead we anticipate offering Sunday School programs during each of our worship services. This will allow for up to five adult Sunday school offerings at each service, with the potential of growing to 15 or more classes on Sunday morning. We also anticipate offering Children’s Church opportunities at two worship services, with a full children’s and youth Sunday school during the traditional service.
We also anticipate moving our Learning Tree Preschool and PMO (Parents’ Morning Out) ministries to our new facility. This move is based upon strong recommendations by our architect, driven by our need to have children’s Sunday School space in the new building. The architects have explained that by having the Learning Tree and Sunday School share space, we will save on cost. They also tell us it would be very cost-prohibitive to renovate our existing Smiley Campus space to the point of meeting state licensing code. We do, however, anticipate keeping a PMO program at the Smiley campus. This is possible because the PMO is a program we can operate under less stringent regulations.
Regarding our kitchen, our long-term plan is to have a fully commercial kitchen in our new facility. As we begin looking at costs, we are preparing for the possibility we may need to start with a catering kitchen. This kitchen would be usable in every way but would not have all the commercial grade food preparation, storage, and clean-up equipment. We would work very quickly to raise the needed funds to purchase the commercial appliances we desire.
Under this plan, our student ministries would remain at the Smiley Campus. Eventually, we have the option for a Phase 2 build that would place a gymnasium and ample youth facilities at our Milburn location, but at the moment that is far outside our budget. It makes sense to leave the youth across from the High School and to allow them to grow into an expanded and upgraded space in their current setting. In this model, our biggest challenge will be to find creative ways to keep the congregation and our youth connected in tangible ways on Sundays, at special events, and on social media.
We will continue to connect as a good neighbor at our Smiley Campus by hosting the many different community groups that use our facility. We also anticipate extra space being freed up to be used as a mission center to reach out to those in need in the community of O’Fallon. We don’t know what these new ministries might be at the moment, but the open space gives us incredible opportunities in exploring the needs of our community and matching those needs with the gifts and passions of our members. Conversations have already been underway with city leaders in finding ways we can partner in ministry.
We have met with Chiodini weekly for the past few weeks and seem to be settling into a plan that offers options to meet all these requirements. Some of the details are still being worked out as we consult with audio/visual consultants on sound and video requirements, as well as looking at anticipated final costs with our General Contractor. We hope to have some visuals ready to present later this summer as we hold a number of question/answer sessions with our entire congregation.
We anticipate moving into our “Connect” generosity campaign late in the summer as we begin to present the full vision of our new space and how it will help us reach a new generation of Christians – meeting our mission of connecting imperfect people to a perfect God.
If you have any questions, please feel free email Pastor Don or Pastor Becky.