Imagine this: A place on Court Square where people of all nations and all levels of spiritual interest could gather in a non-traditional worship space to hear the good news of Jesus. A courtyard where children could play and learn. An international-themed cafe. A place for the homeless to shower and launder. Classrooms where our neighbors could learn life skills. A church-run preschool. Our church on Court Square with doors open wide to the community, offering the hope, the life, and the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is our focus — a vibrant, growing church.
By taking a few steps to rehab some of our existing property, we can begin to pave the way for some of these dreams to happen over the coming years.
How do we get there?
In 1987 and 2005, First Presbyterian purchased two strategic buildings on Court Square, both adjacent to the church: 11 Court Square (1987) and 9 Court Square (2005). The 11 Court Square property (sometimes called the Fauls Building) has deteriorated beyond the point where it makes economic sense to renovate it. In 2018, it was sealed due to air-quality concerns and is unusable. After receiving advice and recommendations from several committees that have looked extensively at the buildings, Session discussed and prayed about the issue and has approved a plan to demolish the building to create a gated space on Court Square. That is the first step.
The next step would be adapting 9 Court Square, which is immediately adjacent to the proposed courtyard. In phases, the building could be configured for multiple functions, including an alternate worship space, a shower and laundry for homeless neighbors, a cafe, and classrooms to teach life skills in a potential partnership with the city. All of these proposals help us achieve our focus of being a vibrantly growing church in the heart of our community.
Session has appointed a committee to determine the timeline and plans for the demolition and any further development of the vacant space, plus a plan for how we could use 9 Court Square to further our mission and vision.
Can we afford it?
Taking the wise advice of the church administration/finance committee, Session had earlier delayed a final decision on the future of the two buildings until it made financial sense. While the full implementation of our dream would come in phases, thanks to some generous bequests, we now have sufficient funds outside of the general operating budget to make a significant start, beginning with the demolition of 11 Court Square and the creation of a courtyard.