Apr 11, 2008, 2:43 AM
How was the meeting? Anything worth reporting?
Apr 11, 2008, 11:47 AM
For those of you (like me) who didnt know what the 4 Churches Project was, theres some good info here:
Also, In addition to the May meeting that WaterlooInvestor mentioned, there will be one later this month
FOUR CHURCHES PROJECT (4CP)
Feasibility Study Report Release and Presentation
Sunday, April 27 - 9:30 am - 10:30 am
St. Peter's Fellowship Hall
Apr 11, 2008, 11:55 AM
Just an article I found on this project. It's a few years old, but still worth reading.
Four corners, one downtown vision
BY MIKE MILNE
Together, four downtown churches in Kitchener, Ont., have 5,000 members, land worth close to $7 million, worshipping space for 3,000 — and on any given Sunday, fewer than 1,200 people in the pews.
Together, Zion United, Trinity United, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church may also have an improved chance of not only surviving as congregations but also better serving their community.
Gary Schleuter (left), representing St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Rev. Douglas Kellough of Zion United, Ivan Hurlbut of Trinity United and Rev. William Johnston of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church inspect a model of a possible redevelopment in downtown Kitchener, Ont.
MIKE MILNE PHOTO
Currently part of The Four Churches Project, the congregations have just finished a $5,000 architectural contest that saw University of Waterloo architecture students give them a glimpse of development possibilities worth up to $75 million.
Since first proposed about three years ago, the project has “been a lot of talk and verbiage, but it’s hard to get your head around it,” says Ivan Hurlbut, chair of finance at Trinity United and a member of the project’s working group. The students’ models gave the proposals a tangible form. The winning entry was called “Urban Integration.”
A couple of weeks after the winners have been announced and congregations and city officials have seen the models, Hurlbut examines the painted cardboard-and-wood buildings and streetscapes. He points out green spaces and designs that may be more imaginative than practical to fellow judge and working group member, Gary Schlueter of St. Peter’s Lutheran.
Beyond the buildings, Schlueter sees the chance “to reach out to individuals in our community who need our help.” The project should be able to produce an income for the congregations, but “that’s secondary to the outreach.”
Unveiled at joint potluck dinners for St. Andrew’s and Zion, then Trinity and St. Peter’s, the models have worked well. “Now that it looks like this is coming into reality, people are paying attention,” says Ken Motts, the Trinity United layperson whose vision spawned the project three years ago and is now chairing the Four Churches working group.
As well as providing space for current outreach initiatives such as the Out of the Cold winter shelter program, the development could also house a variety of social agencies ranging from Meals on Wheels to policing and justice-related services. Along with rent-geared-to-income housing there would also be commercial space for restaurants and stores and upscale apartments. All four churches are located within a couple of city blocks of each other; Trinity United and St. Peter’s Lutheran properties abut each other, while Zion United and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian are very close. If it goes ahead as envisioned, the project would be unified by a single plan but carried out on two sites.
While addressing many social and housing needs in the fast-growing southern Ontario city, the development could also ease the churches’ long-term financial needs. A provincially backed feasibility study is set to begin this fall.
Church-related affordable housing developments are quite common. In fact, Kitchener Alliance Community Homes Inc. (KACHI), with 194 rental units, was originally co-sponsored by Trinity United and is now acting as sponsor for The Four Churches Project during its initial phases.
Mixed-use projects are more common too. St. Andrew’s-Wesley in Vancouver, for example, recently completed a $35-million property development; North Star United in Brampton, Ont., owns and rents out space in the commercial building where it meets. Neither, however, includes four congregations, three denominations and four downtown properties, as is the case in Kitchener.
Kitchener’s fraying downtown is beginning to show signs of renewal. A new market is planned and the region’s daily newspaper is moving its offices back downtown.
Paul Mustin, a member of Trinity and chair of the KACHI board, worries that lower-income people and the churches could be left out of downtown renewal. “Where will the churches be? And where will the poor people live?”
The Four Churches project may answer both those questions, by providing low-cost housing and keeping the four congregations’ sanctuaries intact.
Some downtown community groups are already complaining about the possibility of more social housing, but the working group seems to have the support of local officials, provincial government agencies and a well-established downtown developer.
First, though, the congregations themselves have to agree that their future should be shared and that they may need to change to survive.
The congregations are aging and shrinking, their buildings under-used and expensive to maintain. Rev. William Johnston, one of two ministers at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, says it’s “a time when we have to find new ways of doing mission and ministry.”
While most of the congregations’ members now live in the suburbs or even outside the city, the downtown population needs the outreach they can offer. For Motts, the project offers “one last chance for us as mainline churches to become relevant. That relevance equals survival. And if we don’t do it we will continue with what I call palliative care.”
Trinity United, with 450 families, is strong and viable, says its minister, Rev. Lori Jacobson-Campbell. Still, many members believe change is needed. The project, designs and models have them thinking and talking.
For Rev. Doug Kellough, minister at Zion United — the smallest of the four congregations with the largest piece of property — the potluck dinner with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, with the models on display, was a great opportunity for making connections. “Many have known each other in the community and are really neighbours, but had lost track of one another, or just didn’t know that the others were involved in the other congregation.”
Both United churches have histories conducive to large-scale thinking. Trinity United was the main Methodist church in Kitchener, Zion was Evangelical United Brethren. While many at Zion are deeply attached to their building, the congregation voted in the mid-’90s to tear it down to make way for a new United Church national office, proposed for the site. That project faltered when General Council decided to move to new rented offices in Toronto.
For Motts and his working group and for the four congregations, the hard work begins now. Once the feasibility study is completed in the fall, people will have to decide whether to support the project. Then negotiations can begin in earnest with governments, lenders, neighbouring property-owners, developers and eventually, designers and builders. It could be years before ground is broken and concrete poured.
“We’re still a long way off,” says Motts, “but we’re moving ahead, and it will happen, with the help of the Holy Spirit.”
Apr 11, 2008, 5:10 PM
:previous: Very interesting. Although none could be described as spectacular, Kitchener's many large downtown churches have always been one of the more interesting aspects of an otherwise fairly mundane cityscape, imho. Their holdings would seem to offer interesting possibilities for the development of affordable housing - both the downtown and the churches could benefit as a result.
Apr 11, 2008, 6:15 PM
It'll be interesting to see what they present at the April 27 meeting
Sep 11, 2008, 2:04 PM
are you going to be there?
Sep 11, 2008, 8:34 PM
Wasnt able to make it, but WaterlooInvestor, could you give a report?
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