HELP STRENGTHEN OUR MINISTRY OF RACIAL JUSTICE
For 125 years, First Presbyterian Church has been doing God’s work on Morton Hill in Benton Harbor, focusing on God’s love and reconciliation as we work to confess our sins and live into the racial justice God wants for God’s people.
We are a multicultural congregation.
We know who we are.
And we know why we’re here.
We are excited by new growth, yet our building was limited. We asked your help to enhance it and strengthen our mission for generations to come. Help as we seek to embody the reconciling love of Christ right here.
THE BUILDING WAS DEDICATED IN MAY 2019. IT IS INCREDIBLE. THANK YOU ALL!
See the updated photos here:
THE FORMER PROBLEMS
1. Narrow, confining hallways and a tiny front entry space off the sanctuary. Tight spaces impede people’s movement and discourage long-term member growth.
2. Chronic roof leaks in the winter. Poor insulation and a peaked roof over the narthex contribute to ice dams, leaks, temperature issues and energy loss.
3. Unwelcoming front entrance. Where a beautiful main entry could be is instead a “closed design” with a tiny narthex behind. Visitors and members alike avoid this door and park in the back.
With one design we will solve all three problems both economically and strategically.
We will replace the entire roof and extend it over what is now the front patio. Adding an outer wall to enclose that space transforms it into a greatly expanded “welcome center” where we can fellowship and hold small classes.
Foot traffic will flow freely through the narthex as it connects the sanctuary to Goff Hall, where food is served. The outer wall of the narthex will be a beautiful, curved, largely glass-enclosed structure. Landscaping, new parking spaces in front and a wheelchair ramp will all join together to extend a warm welcome.The pitched roof over the entrance will be nearly flattened, ending ice dam problems there.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We can’t do this alone. We need your help for enhancements estimated at $800,000. We will raise the money without incurring debt.
Many of our 75 members struggle financially. Still, key early-phase pledges are encouraging. Just weeks into our campaign, our members have pledged or given nearly 20% of our goal already!
To strengthen our mission far into the future, we are also seeking contributions of $400,000 for a sustainability fund, mainly through legacy gifts. This fund will ensure that operating our renewed building will not burden future members or God’s mission.
TRUE TO OUR HISTORY
Since 1892, First Presbyterian has had three homes on Morton Hill: rental space in a college, and two church buildings.
Prophetically, our 1962 sanctuary is graced by a stained glass window from our mid-1890s’ era church bearing the words “Ministry of Reconciliation.” They speak powerfully concerning what still propels us: a ministry of racial and class reconciliation. We gave formal witness to this work in our Mission Statement (1993), in a covenant with Lake Michigan Presbytery (2001), and in our congregation’s reaffirmation of the Mission Statement (2011).
First Presbyterian stayed through the white flight of the 1960s and ‘70s and became racially integrated. Today over 1/3 of our members are African-American.
In 1979 a fire destroyed our large gathering hall. We rebuilt. And we rededicated our congregation as an integral part of Morton Hill. We are the only mainline Protestant congregation still left in Benton Harbor.
A PARTNER IN OUR COMMUNITY
First Presbyterian has been an anchor on Morton Hill for generations. Every Sunday from our pulpit we fervently proclaim our motto:
ROOTS DOWN, BRANCHES OUT!
Many of us were drawn to First Presbyterian because of Benton Harbor’s challenges. And then we found that people with little material wealth are often the most ready to accept the love of Christ.
We work alongside various organizations, including:
- Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor
- Benton Harbor Ministerial Alliance
- Morton Hill Neighborhood Association
- Mosaic Christian Community Development Association
- Fresh Start Children’s Garden
- Harbor Habitat for Humanity
- Benton Harbor Young Life
- I’m Saving Myself Music Academy