Mennonite church to build on Poyntz

By Brady Bauman

The Manhattan Mennonite Church has unveiled plans for a new building and location.

The current church building is at 1000 Fremont, and through the help of tithes and donations, church leaders hope to break ground at 821 Poyntz — immediately east of Manhattan High’s east campus — where the new proposed building will cover 13,600 square feet and have an estimated cost of $1.7 million.

So far, the church has raised approximately $91,000. MMC’s goal is to raise $300,000 by 2015.

“Obviously it’s a big step for us,” co-pastor Richard Gehring said. “We’ve been doing some envisioning for a while here. Our current facility just isn’t meeting our needs at this point and we’re excited for the possibility of a new structure and to be more visible in the community as well.”

There is no immediate timetable on ground-breaking for the new location and it largely depends on the sale of Ponderosa Trailer Park, which the church bought in 2007.

The trailer park, located north of the intersection of Marlatt and Tuttle Creek Boulevard, is an asset estimated to be worth $600,000, according to MMC, and was a property originally slated for the new building – before the more desirable property on Poyntz came into play.

Bob Atchison is the chairman for the church committee on the project, and said their current facility, which was built in 1906, is showing its age.

“The current building we’re in right now has really narrow stairs and Sunday school rooms are (made up of) dividers that we move, so we lack privacy with a lot of our youth education,” he said.

“Parking is a huge issue and it’s not a green building. It’s an older building that is over 100 years old.

“It lacks the welcoming that we’d like to be able to offer to people. It’s suited us well over the years, but we’ve decided we’d like to be more visible and the Poyntz property attracted us with that.

“The mission of our church is to be welcoming to all people.”

Gehring said the new building will be roughly double the size of the current one and the Poyntz property, which was initially purchased in 2011, is nearly paid off.

The Poyntz property also takes away the aches and pains that may have been involved in building on the trailer park property, due to the fact the park’s inhabitants would have had to move when construction began.

“Yes, there are some hassles that (will) be saved, with that,” Gehring said.

Both Gehring and Atchison said the idea of a greener building has also been an idea often on the congregation’s mind.

“We’re a real social-justice minded group and the idea of spending this much money on a building was difficult,” Atchison said. “Environmental factors entered.”

Gehring, who said modernizing the current building would cost more than the entire building’s worth, agreed.

“It’s a design that optimizes our ministry,” he said. “It’s provides a better stewardship of resources and creation-care, the idea that the world we’ve been given is entrusted to us, is an important value to us.”

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