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Major buildings set for Chicago, San Diego, Salt Lake City
'Church of the Future' planned now

By Pat McCaughan
4/3/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  The church of the future just may be connected to a high-rise. The Diocese of Chicago is moving forward with plans to erect a 64-story elliptical-shaped glass office and condominium tower, which will double its current space and help fund future ministry, said Michael Stephenson, canon for development.

Located on the city's upscale residential North side, the new building will house offices for the diocese, St. James Cathedral and Episcopal Charities and Community Services.

"The space will also include a 65,000 square-foot Canyon Ranch health and wellness center and restaurant, 100 hotel condominiums connected with Canyon Ranch and another 330 private condominium units," Stephenson said.

"It is planned that the new building will be the greenest high-rise building in Chicago, in the forefront of environmental and energy conservation designs," he said. The building, which will also include several floors of parking, is planned to replace the current five-story diocesan and cathedral office building, constructed in 1967.

The Chicago development mirrors a growing national trend among churches of all denominations seeking to maximize land use for ministry, said the Rev. Cindy Voorhees of Voorhees Design (see related story).

"Such churches are typically in inner cities where the real estate market has skyrocketed and a renaissance is occurring in the city and the church has now become again the center point of the city," said Voorhees, a church designer for 16 years and associate rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. "The churches realize that they can be a more integral part of the city if they offer more direct services, so they partner with developers to do that."

In addition to Episcopal churches, Voorhees' current clientele includes Presbyterian, Baptist, Calvary and nondenominational churches, as well as a synagogue. Typically, such projects can include retail space and underground parking, as well as low-income and high-end housing units like condominiums.

"It's not everyone's model, but this is more millennium thinking, in my view. I think the church needs to become more entrepreneurial in the use of assets. Why not use the land for the benefit of the city and the church?" said Voorhees. "You have churches with a lot of land and very little parking, so they put in underground parking beneath retail outlets and it becomes one big happy family, a kind of symbiotic relationship where everyone wins."

Bishop William Persell of Chicago praised city officials for supporting the plan. "The building's design will be notable on the skyline of our great city, known for its architecture, and the new diocesan and cathedral center and the proceeds from the property lease will greatly enhance our mission," he said.

"Proceeds from the ground lease will fund future mission of the diocese in such areas as congregational development, church starts or more direct ministries," added David Skidmore, communications director.

Construction is expected to start in early 2007 with completion in late 2009.

Additionally, the plans for the new office center have sparked a renewed interest in refurbishing and rendering more accessible nearby St. James Cathedral, Skidmore said. "The Cathedral in tandem is considering innovative approaches to redesign of space in keeping with renovation plans developed in the 1980s that were never realized."

San Diego: 'Cathedral for the City' to include Low-Income Housing

In San Diego, St. Paul's Cathedral has embarked on a $17 million project to complete construction of the cathedral and to refurbish two nine-story towers in the city's downtown district for low-income housing and additional community meeting space, said the Very Rev. Scott Richardson, dean of the cathedral.

"The initiating spirit of it is important," Richardson said. "It began with reflection on the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). We asked the fundamental questions about what we're doing with what we're given and we realized we have very valuable land assets that have been undeveloped, lying fallow and our initial instinct was to be faithful stewards of the gifts we've been given."

The cathedral, located across from the upscale Balboa Park area since 1928, was never completed, Richardson explained. Its current nave and sanctuary are a 1950s design of Philip Frohman, architect for the Washington National Cathedral. Richardson said project plans are to complete the original design; create an endowment to expand Cathedral ministries; provide community and program space for diocesan and cathedral offices; and include underground parking.

As many as 70 community and other groups and 3,000 individuals use the space weekly, said Richardson, who added: "The goal of this project is to develop it for the purpose of ministry, not to enrich it for ourselves but to expand more deeply into ministry."

Salt Lake City: 'Building for the Next Hundred Years'

In downtown Salt Lake City, two separate projects-a new diocesan headquarters and a new parish hall for St. Mark's Cathedral-are planned on the same site, said Stephen Hutchinson, chancellor of the diocese.

Their development has been aided by the diocesan Project Jubilee, which, since 1999, has contributed $10.5 million toward construction of five new churches with seven others pending, including the diocesan and cathedral projects.

In addition, Project Jubilee, designed to help prevent mortgage debt from crippling congregational ministry, has also contributed $6.2 million to eleven site improvements; $3.8 million toward repayment of eight mortgages, and $6.6 million toward purchase of 12 sites for new churches with four other land purchases pending and about $2 million grants to other faith communities.

"Our attitude is that we're building physical infrastructures for the church of the next hundred years," Hutchinson said. "Utah is a state that's growing and we expect to get our share of that growth. We figure if we build it, they'll come."

The population of Salt Lake City is expected to increase by 600,000 by the year 2015 and in nearby St. George County, to triple to almost 200,000 people within the next decade, he said. The diocese has 22 congregations, about 6,000 communicants and "by the time we're finished, we'll have touched almost every congregation in our diocese in terms of new buildings, remodeling or relief from mortgage debt."

Site preparation has begun for the new diocesan center and completion date is set for the spring of 2007. The planned 33,000-square-foot diocesan center will house office and conference space, a bookstore, resource center, coffee shop, as well as a retreat and hospitality center with space available for overnight stays for up to 28 guests.

Hutchinson said the Gothic-style brick and sandstone building will further strengthen the diocese's ministry of hospitality which is "a very important part of the culture of the people of our diocese and a way we support the wider church in this very geographically large state."

Nearby, work has already begun on the $4 million, 23,000-square-foot cathedral center, which will house a parish hall, offices, sacristy, choir and meeting room space, said the Very Rev. Rick Lawson, St. Mark's dean. Construction is also underway a short distance away for the Hildegard Food Pantry, which serves about 200 families a week. It is expected to reopen May 1.

"We've moved on," since December's demotion of the existing Spalding Hall, built in 1931 and renovated in 1958, Lawson said. "Spalding Hall had served a very useful life but wasn't terribly useful for us anymore," he said. The congregation raised more than $3 million from a variety of sources and hopes to occupy the new hall by Advent this year.

The cathedral, which dates from 1870 and was the first mainline Protestant church built in the Salt Lake Valley, is the oldest building in Utah to have continuous religious services. It is also the third oldest Episcopal Cathedral in the United States. "It was damaged by fire in 1935, but even with that held a service there the following Sunday and it has never missed a Sunday," Lawson said. The project will also double meeting room space. "The community has a stake in us as do we in our local community. I imagine it will be in even greater demand now that will have a bigger hall that will hold about 240 instead of 110," he added.

"We've tried to honor the cathedral by making sure we do nothing that would detract from its beauty, warmth and hospitality," Lawson said. "At the same time, as we plan for the new building we know we are planning for the next hundred years or so."

--The Rev. Patricia McCaughan is senior correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and associate rector of St. Mary's Church in Laguna Beach, California.

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No More Twisting Junipers and Spaghetti: Try M-TV reality

by Pat McCaughan

[ENS] Get rid of the twisting junipers and spaghetti dinners. Instead, check out MTV, myspace.com, pod-casting, and online prayer groups and bible studies for working moms, are a few of the Rev. Cindy Voorhees' recommendations when congregations ask about revisioning future ministry.

And lots of churches ask.

Voorhees, a church designer who also serves as an associate rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, explained: "Twisting junipers were planted in the 1950s; they take over everything, you can't see the architecture because of them. They look like bear claws, like they're going to attack you when you walk in the door."

And, after "a whole generation has watched the cooking channel, we don't call it spaghetti anymore. It's called pasta and if you want 30-

year-olds to come to your meals you'd better call it pasta, too."

"We have to think in terms of Survivor, and makeover and reality shows," said Voorhees, who founded Voorhees Design 16 years ago. Her client list has included mainline and nontraditional churches, even synagogues around the country, all with a common concern: how to grow in the next millennium.

"I just went to a Lutheran church in Santa Barbara, California, where the young people said 'if I didn't have a job here, I wouldn't come to this church.' They were ready to rip out the pews and bounce off the walls; they wanted to try something new."

Several Lutheran client churches were built in the 1950s and the 1960s are in need of remodeling, said Voorhees. "They're looking at how to reshape themselves when the nondenominational church down the road has taken many of their teenagers and kids. And they ask what do we do with that, how do we work ourselves into a new look?"

Consider M&Ms candy, she advises. The candy manufacturer repackaged the popular treats by adding different colors, going from brown-only to yellow and orange in the 1950s and eventually incorporating fun packaging and broadening the product to include everything from black to even pink, to symbolize breast cancer awareness.

"The point is, it's still the same product and so are we. We have to look at change but keep the same message," Voorhees said. "We don't have to sacrifice theology but we do need to repackage ourselves. We need to find ways to communicate that it's the same Jesus Christ. We're firm in our faith and our convictions that Christ is our Lord. Especially if we want to reach out to the E-generation."

Chicago: Repackaging: the Same Message a New Way

One way churches and dioceses are repackaging is through partnerships with developers and other agencies that offer a dual benefit: creative uses of space that help fund ministry.

The Diocese of Chicago, for example, is moving ahead with plans to build a 64-story elliptical-shaped glass office and condominium tower which will double its current space and help fund future ministry, said Michael Stephenson, canon for development. Leasing out space to Canyon Ranch for a health and wellness center and restaurant, and private and hotel condominiums will fund church starts and other ministries, he said.

"It is planned that the new building will be the greenest high-rise building in Chicago, in the forefront of environmental and energy conservation designs," Stephenson said. The building, which will also include several floors of parking, is planned to replace the current five-story diocesan and cathedral office building, constructed in 1967.

San Diego's St. Paul's "Cathedral for the City" project will bring low-income housing to the upscale Balboa Park neighborhood, said the Very Rev. Scott Richardson, cathedral dean.

He said the project was conceived as a way to "be faithful stewards of the gifts we've been given ... not to enrich it for ourselves but to expand more deeply into ministry."

Voorhees said similar projects are happening in urban areas where there's a renaissance going on and that the church has now become again the center point of the city. "What happens is the real estate prices have skyrocketed and the churches recognize that they can be more of an integral part of the city if they offer more direct services. It's valuable land, so why not use it for the benefit of the city and the church?

"If you have a diocese with 150 churches and 10 percent aren't doing well, you need to talk to them about relocating and recycling their facilities into something the city can use and starting storefront churches in growing neighborhoods where there is mission and ministry."

Santa Barbara: 'We Have All the Toys'

Voorhees, who oversaw the design of the Holy Cross Monastery chapel in Santa Barbara, spends 70 percent of her ministry meeting with churches. Her clients have included Presbyterians, Lutherans, Antioch Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, as well as nondenominational churches and synagogues.

She feels called to help more Episcopal Churches, but cautions that congregations must be prepared to go where ministry is, not to wait for it to show up on the doorstep. It would involve making tough decisions.

"We need to re-evaluate ministry, what's working and what's not," she said. "I walk into a lot of churches where there's a lot of gray-haired people and they're wondering where everyone went. Some have 25 people on Sunday and it's time to look seriously at options like relocating to a place in the city where the demographics work for your particular church or to sell it and give the money to the diocese for other ministry.

"A lot of times, it's the same story, just different names. They say, 'here's our church, we have no money. We need a remodel, but we don't know what to do.' I start with the process of fundraising and how to grow mainline churches."

However, she is currently designing a 110,000-square-foot Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad, California where they are dealing "with 25-year-olds who want incense and candles and the kinds of services we offer," Voorhees said.

"They know they threw the baby out with the bath water. That's what they want. We have all the toys, but we don't know how to share them. What college kids want is what the Episcopal Church has to offer, but we're just sitting back and waiting for them to come in the door. But they're in myspace.com, so why aren't we watching an hour of MTV every week?"