The first time I came to 5495 East Main Street was fifteen years ago this July. I was an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church, but the interim pastor of Kalamazoo Bible Church wanted to show me the property to see if Calvary would be willing to take it over and use it for ministry. Four months later, after much discussion, Calvary Bible Church East began with a focus on strong Bible teaching and the proclamation of the gospel.
Kalamazoo Bible Church was originally located downtown, but after their building burnt down in the late 1960s, they purchased this property in the Comstock area. They quickly built a house and used it as a temporary meeting space as they constructed the current church building. Once it was finished, the house was turned into a parsonage for the pastor.
As Calvary East began, we made several changes to the facility. We painted and had new carpet installed. We purchased a sound system and air conditioning for the sanctuary. We turned the old parsonage into offices, using the basement as our youth room. We also repaved and expanded the parking lot. After a few years, we replaced the roof and switched out broken down pews for new chairs. Then in 2016 several walls were removed to create a larger lobby area. Yet the buildings are essentially the same as they were 50 years ago.
We continue to benefit from the sacrificial giving and hard work of those believers. But as we look to the future, we are concerned about the longevity of our office/youth center (i.e., the old parsonage that was once a temporary church). We have had a series of plumbing problems that became basement problems. Many of them stem from the fact that the house was never connected to city water or sewer. Of course, this negatively impacts the space we use for youth ministry. Any attempts to update the building are complicated by the fact that it is far out of line from current building codes. Something as simple as replacing a water heater last year turned into a complicated ordeal.
So, our church council has decided to seek out an architectural or design-and-build firm that can create a master plan. We want to explore the feasibility of building a new office/youth center that would be connected to our main church building and would include a large multi-purpose room for youth activities and for congregational meals such as the Thanksgiving gatherings that we have done in the past.
Please pray for us to have wisdom. We know that this would be a huge undertaking. Let us know if there is a firm that you would recommend. If you want to begin contributing additional financial support, donations can be directed to our building fund.
– Bryan Craddock