Northeast Joco

Village Presbyterian starts rolling on $23 million improvement project

A new steeple will be built on top of the new welcome center at Village Presbyterian Church using the metal spire from the top of the old steeple. Crews worked last Wednesday at the church, 6641 Mission Road.
A new steeple will be built on top of the new welcome center at Village Presbyterian Church using the metal spire from the top of the old steeple. Crews worked last Wednesday at the church, 6641 Mission Road. The Kansas City Star

Results of a two-year, $23 million capital campaign are evident this week at 65-year-old Village Presbyterian Church.

Renovations totaling $12 million have begun at 6641 Mission Road, including the addition of a welcome center and renovation of the church sanctuary featuring the addition of a newly constructed pipe organ.

Also planned is a new $8 million, 26,000-square-foot child and family development center at 99th Street and Mission Road, the site of The Robert and Shirley Meneilly Center for Mission. The existing 20-year-old child care center, located in a former Shawnee Mission elementary school at the site, will be demolished.

The campaign will also raise funds for a $3 million church mission endowment that will generate $150,000 annually for local, national and global mission work, said the Rev. Tom Are Jr., senior pastor.

“We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that a generation from now we will be as strong as we’ve been for the past 65 years,” Are said. The church membership is about 5,000 and has remained at that level for the past decade, he said.

Are said visionary work began on the project about five years ago. Fundraising started about two years ago and the church has reached 90 percent of its goal.

Construction will start with the welcome center, which is expected to be complete by October, said Jim Borthwick, chairman of the sanctuary/pipe organ committee.

Situated on the north end of the church, the 14,000-square-foot addition will provide handicap access to the building and additional meeting space with room for gatherings of 150 to 200 people. Borthwick said the new space also will provide better access to the church sanctuary, which was previously accessed through a narrow hallway.

“Churches are first a network of relationships and that requires a place for that to happen,” said Are. “We’re adding a new space to enable new, lifelong members and others to gather.”

Work is scheduled to begin on renovating the sanctuary the day after Easter and is expected to be complete by September. The Friendship Hall, located on the second floor on the south end of the church, will be used as a temporary space for worship.

While the sanctuary will lose two rows of seats, acoustics will be improved and a new sound system and pipe organ currently under construction in Tennessee will be added, Borthwick said.

“Our organ is compromised and our acoustics are limited,” Are said. “Once the sanctuary is renovated, we will provide the best worship experience our building can offer.”

The new Village Church Child & Family Development Center will increase the building’s capacity from 93 children to 132. The current enrollment includes 90 families and there is always a waiting list, said Dianne Stanley, building chairwoman of the Menielly Task Force. The center serves children from six weeks of age to 5.

The center will be designed to be designated a LEED-certified building, Stanley said. Included will be LED lighting, solar panels, green building materials and a system to harvest rainwater.

The building will feature nine classrooms, outdoor classrooms for play and learning, a bistro space and a multi-use space for educational activities, she said.

“We’re excited about the outdoor settings that will provide children with opportunities to explore nature and learn while playing,” she said.

The former child care center will be demolished and the area made into parking for the child care center, pantry and clothes closet.

Are said the center assists area families, many of whom are not members of the church. “We can’t start caring about our neighbors too soon,” Are said. “There is a huge need for quality child care. We start caring for children from birth and we also offer a preschool and children’s ministry.”

Are said the child development center and food pantry are part of Village Presbyterian Church’s service to the community. “These offerings and others allow our members to live out their faith in the community,” he said.

As part of its outreach, the church has started Village Talk, a new speaker series. Kansas City Mayor Sly James was the first speaker. Others will include David von Drehle, editor-at-large of Time Magazine; Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor of the University of Kansas, and Steve Kraske, KCUR radio host. Audience participation is welcome.

“These public events are frequent occurrences for us,” Are said. “We also make our space available to a variety of groups, so our renovations will enrich our capacity to provide space for the community.”