Open Wide Our Front Door

HELP STRENGTHEN OUR MINISTRY OF RACIAL RECONCILIATION

For 125 years, First Presbyterian Church has been doing God’s work on Morton Hill in Benton Harbor, focusing on God’s love and racial reconciliation.

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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 is limited. We ask 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.

Now through the end of 2016, a $10,000 match is in place. All new gifts or pledges made before December 31 will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Give a buck, we get 2!

LEARN MORE ABOUT WHO WE ARE AND WHAT GOD IS DOING HERE.

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Architectural rendering of the new entrance to First Presbyterian Church in Benton Harbor.

THE CURRENT PROBLEMS

1. Narrow, confining hallways and a tiny front entry space off the sanctuary. Tight spaces impede people 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.

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THE SOLUTION

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

The community of Christ is strong in Benton Harbor. Help us make our mission grow even stronger.give button

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