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Let's Purchase & RENOVATE the Center!
And let's do it efficiently, so we can focus on other stuff.
The Lord's tiniest project
It seems like a big thing to do - trying to purchase the building for something between $750,000-$1,000,000 and, theoretically at the same time, trying to renovate the thing, with plans that would really make each space very, very useful but would also run up a tab between $500,000-$1,000,000. And to do all of this with about 70-80 people attending on an average Sunday - from whom we generally see wonderful, generous, beautiful, Gospel-filled offerings of about $1,500/week.
But let's put it into perspective. Let's compare it to the things God is already doing in Rock Hill and in Illumine. Which is a bigger challenge - transforming hearts, OR buying a building? Which is a more significant project - helping people see that the love of Jesus changes everything in their lives because they no longer have to earn God's favor OR making rooms better?
This community, Illumine Church, must have a much bigger picture of ministry and goals for God in Rock Hill than this building. This is tiny. Connecting people to God and his love and his role in their lives is such a massive project that this Ministry Center becomes something small - not insignificant, but small. God, through us, by the power of his Word and through his unconditional grace, is already doing things that are bigger than you and I can understand. In his vision for the people of Rock Hill, this project is not big, not overwhelming, and not even the goal. It's a stepping stone and a means to an end.
To that end, I, as the pastor at Illumine, would ask each of you who reads or hears this to focus on the fact that God and the church he makes and the work he does is something that happens in hearts and lives, not in brick and steel. Acknowledge and celebrate the fact that God does not need but is able to use this building for his purposes, not yours or mine. And pray. Pray boldly, for your friends and families and neighbors who don't know God. Pray for them by name, as often as you can, and work to enlighten them to everything God has done. You are the church. If God wants to provide a Center from which you can carry the message of Jesus and his love to the world, so be it.
Use people who read this to bring you glory by sharing you with the people around them through caring, compassionate, and Gospel-focused relationships. Bring them closer to you as they study your Word and as they pray. Bind them together as a group of people who encourage each other and spur each other on to be genuine. If it is your will, grant them an excellent space where they can gather and be equipped to go out and be your ambassadors to their communities. You are a great God, and we are your people. Lead us by opening doors and send us the Spirit to give us wisdom to go through them.
The Basic idea
At the corner of the busiest street in Rock Hill (Celanese Road) and the busiest street in South Carolina (I-77) sits our 12,675 sq. ft. building. In many ways, this building can serve as an ideal headquarters for the Worship, Education, and Community Service work that Illumine offers to help people be disciples of Jesus. It is a flexible space, allowing it to serve in many different ways. It is well-suited to be a center for a growing and thriving community - and I'm not just talking about the community that is Illumine Church. The city of Rock Hill is coming into its own in many ways, revitalizing downtown and gaining great new restaurants, schools, and neighborhoods. The people here need places to meet, and this building can be that place. Better than a coffee shop (though basically connected to a Starbucks) more versatile than a library (though still a place for learning) and larger and way less expensive than a reception hall, (plus, we've got the gospel motivating all the people that the community will meet when they come here!!!) this building is a great opportunity for Illumine to truly be a "community church."
A Little History
This building was built in 1979 as a boat repair/sales facility. It was subsequently turned into a Gold's Gym, and it served as a gym under various names for 20 years. After the gym days were over, it became a night club called Rosetta's. The night club was somewhat unsavory and didn't last long, eventually the managers simply left. Not long after, it became the Xscape, a club for under-21 youth to dance and connect. Illumine was actually going to sublet from the Xscape and hold its very first Sunday worship event there, but the Xscape had to close down and Illumine moved on to the movie theater on Dave Lyle Boulevard.
Nevertheless, we knew that the building was now available, and we reached out the owner. Illumine moved into the building at 1262 Riverchase Blvd. in August 2014. After about $15,000 in remodeling, using almost exclusively non-professionals and Builders for Christ to do the work, we've brought it to where it is today. If you didn't have the chance to see it before it became Illumine, it's come a long way!
According to the lease, there is the guaranteed option to purchase the building after the second year of occupancy (July 2016) at an MAI appraised price. If Illumine does not purchase the building, the yearly lease price goes up $10,000 (making it $60,000.) Since the many advantages of the building are clear, and it's the plan to remain here, it is wise to purchase the building as soon as possible so that it can truly meet its potential and, hopefully, the focus of the congregation's work can move on from the topic of "facility" (at least as much as possible.)
How purchasing works
As a WELS congregation, Illumine is blessed to be able to work with the Church Extension Fund, who gives loans to churches for building and renovation projects. In addition to giving us very fair interest rates on the loan, they also provide matching grants on the downpayment. We are currently working with the District Mission Board to submit all of the appropriate paperwork to secure a loan from the CEF. A large part of this is working on a 10 Year Projection for Illumine which looks at both our membership and budget numbers to help us arrive at a final number for the size of the loan that the CEF is comfortable with Illumine undertaking.
Illumine is working with David Dial and Beth Bolles of Blue Box Design on the remodel. They're amazing, and each have a great deal of experience working with churches. The local contracting firm Ecclesia, which works exclusively with churches, will be the contractor on the project. Ecclesia is excited and willing to empower volunteer workers - whether they are Illumine people or Builders for Christ, so you'll get to see many people of various backgrounds working together to make this project happen.
There are a number of changes that are on the table for the building. Here are just a few:
The building certainly needs to be painted. In general, though Illumine has been in this space for two years, many people who regularly drive by have no idea that it is there. This is no good. Doing moderate face-lifting will help raise the profile of the building in the community and (if God lets it - as is the case with every aspect of this page) take away barriers that might make them hesitant or unable to come check out what's happening.
The "porch" and "patio" areas would change, in that they would become substantially more...useful. If you've seen them, you know the potential they have, but you also know they could be better spaces for people to hang out and grow together.
The exterior of the building on the south side will see the greatest change. About 20 parking spots will be eliminated to make room for green-space, play areas, and a fire pit. These are (like every part of this project) meant to be for public spaces just as much as they are for the use of specifically Illumine events.
At this point, two of the old units still don't work. They need to be replaced, and the whole area needs to be fenced in both for protection and for aesthetics.
There are several places in the parking lot that are downright dangerous, especially in the area nearest Riverchase Blvd. These need to be fixed, and the landscaping brought under control. The previous tenants did not manage the landscaping well, and much of it needs re-doing.
The basic layout of the building will stay the same, but each space will get raised to a more functional level. Plans for each space have been created, and they are on display at the Center now, so feel free to come by any time to see them.