Friday, December 07, 2012

A Home for the Mother Ship--a Faith-Building Story

Tomorrow, we are driving down to our old stomping grounds in DuPage County for a church service--a Consecration Service to dedicate a new building to the Lord.

Church of the Resurrection (one of Light of Christ's mother churches and our home church for 17 years before we moved to WI) has been a mobile church for 22 years or more. When we first joined, they were worshiping at West Chicago High School. When we outgrew that auditorium, we moved to Edman Chapel at Wheaton College for two years; then it was on to Glenbard West High School, where they have been ever since.

We had no storage there at the high school. (We are incredibly blessed at Light of Christ to have a storage room at the Kemper Center!)  Everything--sound system, Sunday School and nursery supplies, altar, banners, lectern, etc.--was kept on large wooden carts on wheels, that were loaded up after church and pushed up a ramp onto a truck. No access to anything on the truck during the week!  Then on Sunday mornings, everything had to be unloaded from the truck, unloaded from the carts and the truck parked elsewhere. In severely cold weather, there was always a story about how the truck wouldn't start. The volunteer who drove it had to get there at some ungodly hour like 4 a.m. to have extra time just in case, and even then, there was often a story of how God provided some person or means of getting it started when the usual tricks didn't work.

Over the years, this congregation has attempted to find a building, or a piece of land, in a very land-locked area. They've looked at warehouses, old grocery stores, and the rare church building that has come on the market. They've looked at parcels of land, all far away from where they want to be, and even settled on one in Winfield that wasn't too far out, a few years ago. They began the process of getting zoning and city approvals--we had just moved, so I don't remember all the issues, but I remember the heartbreak that many of our friends went through as the needed approvals were refused, despite what had seemed like an open door initially. Many questions arose: Weren't we following the Lord's leading? Did we hear wrong? Why didn't this work out?

It was another two years or so before a property came on the market, an old warehouse right in downtown Wheaton (near FE Wheaton Lumber, if you know the area). A parishioner who is in real estate heard about it just days before it went up for auction. He was able to buy it for about the price of the land alone, and he offered to sell it to Rez at that price if they wanted it. The more they looked into whether it would work or not, the more perfect it began to seem. It was not far from Wheaton College, which was important for the large number of students who attend and participate regularly; there was adequate parking; there were no significant zoning hurdles; and its border on one side is Lincoln Marsh, a nature preserve. Overall, a great location in every way!

The warehouse itself is no ordinary warehouse, either. It was designed by David Haid, a distinguished Chicago architect who is probably best-known for designing the window-walled residence which is the site of the car-crash-through-the-window scene at the end of the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Like that building, this warehouse is also notable for its light and the placing of windows. Along the front of the building, which is the longest wall of the sanctuary area, there are windows for the top 20 feet or so.


Same angle, closer up, months later...


You can see they are building up the stage, and that curved portion on the left wall is a choir shell. Pretty great to have that huge service door in back, too, huh? (All the better to bring on large set pieces for the Easter Vigil!)

Here's the lobby area outside the sanctuary. The wall on the left will be a changing display by the many artists at Rez.

Nov. 5

And another lobby entrance which will house RezCafe, the coffee house area.

Nov. 5

And now, what relief that the Winfield parcel didn't work out! For just a fraction of the millions they would have had to spend to build from scratch, Rez now has a building--a really cool building--with room to grow! (There is room for a basketball court in just one of the many spaces they are leaving unfinished for now; in fact, it's right through the doors at the far left in the photo above.)

More photos, including the whole top floor of offices and Sunday School classrooms:

What an exciting time. We've only been waiting 20 years or more for this day to come...and now, it's here! Praise be to God!!!

(Slideshow below includes the last Sunday at Glenbard West and the procession from the high school to the new building, with stops at the old Ministry Center and Wheaton College.)

1 comment:

Jessica Snell said...

Wow - how exciting! Congratulations!