Striking new Church of the Resurrection is ‘built well, built to last,’ pastor says

Think in terms of a building — better yet, a space for spirited people — lasting a century or more.

That’s the context in which the Rev. Adam Hamilton justifies the $81 million addition to the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, which he showed off Thursday in an open house for news media.

A circular sanctuary with 3,500 seats. Outside the Leawood church, an octagonal design of seven stainless-steel “sails” reaching skyward. Inside, a stained-glass opus three stories high and 100 feet across.

Yes, pricey — mostly paid for by church members and other donors who contributed to a capital campaign a few years back.

But if it stands for a century, a modest prediction in Hamilton’s view, Kansas City and the world will benefit in mission work and charitable giving “60 to 80 times” the building’s cost.

He has gone over the math.

Extrapolating the 20,000-member congregation’s current level of outreach over the next 100 years, the church can be expected to contribute $4.8 billion to $6.5 billion in missions and outside ministry.

Hamilton, who 27 years ago launched from a funeral home what now is the nation’s largest United Methodist congregation, said he understood why some would question the monetary outlay for such a project. When added to the cost of renovations to older structures, the price tag for campus improvements at 137th Street and Roe Avenue exceeds $90 million.

“We are going to get criticized for a period of time,” maybe a year or more, he said. But citing initially mixed reactions to other ambitious building projects, including the early 2000s addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Hamilton said the community would come to appreciate the Church of the Resurrection’s purpose.

“Built well, built to last,” he said. “A space to be used for mission and ministry into the future.”

The new building’s centerpiece is a giant window depicting the Christian epic from Adam and Eve to civil rights leaders of the 20th century. Designed by Judson Studios in Los Angeles, it is thought to be the largest, singular stained-glass display of any church in the world.

The sanctuary was designed by the Minneapolis architectural firm HGA to be more intimate, with Hamilton able to see all faces, than was the church’s former sanctuary. Members often complained of the dark, gymnasium-style setting of the former place of worship, which when built was not intended to be a forever sanctuary, the pastor said.

“It felt too big,” said Hamilton.

McCownGordon Construction of Kansas City was construction manager for the new building, which will be opened for worship services this weekend.

Rick Montgomery: 816-234-4410, @rmontgomery_r