“We are excited about our Grand Opening Celebration at all services March 18 and 19, and everything that is happening at St. Andrew’s,” explained Jon Batarse, Minister of Communications at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. “We want people in the community to know that our newly renovated campus and our church is a special place to belong. As part of our 2020 vision, we are working on what we call ‘Creating Space to Belong.’ Our church is following an internal call to action with an external impact, creating space for our community to belong. Whether you’ve never heard of St. Andrew’s or you’ve been part of the church family since it started in 1947, you are welcome here.”
“We wanted to improve the campus to make it more inviting, to encourage people to use the space even more than they do,” he continued. “Our community is encouraged to come enjoy the beautiful campus. We’ve greatly expanded the café and are serving the best of the best from the local community, like Kean Coffee, Shirley’s Bagels, Caliente Black Market Bakery, Pressed Juicery, ThunderKing Cold Brew and Cha Cha Kombucha.”
Jon said students from Ensign and Newport Harbor come to the church at different times of the day. As part of the campus improvements, there are sitting areas, board games such as checkers and Jenga, food, drinks and free Wi-Fi.
“What we’re seeing with the students is that they feel free to walk across the street, and they feel free to be themselves, to just hang out,” Jon said. “That’s important. God made each of us unique, so people should be free to be themselves, and to be who God created them to be. It’s not just about the facility, but about the people in the church being inviting as well. Our congregation is stepping up to be as inviting as we’ve built our campus to be.”
“As individuals, we need to feel a sense of belonging,” Jon continued. “We belong to communities of people who have invited us into various spaces. People need to feel welcome. We at St. Andrew’s invite our community to come and see the newly renovated campus, and to experience a sense of belonging with one another.”
Jon said that parents used to just drop off their children at the preschool and then leave, but now they can stay, visit and have coffee with friends while their children run around and play.
“It used to be common that when you moved to a new area, you found a church to attend before you knew anybody,” Jon explained. “Then you made your friends. Now the data is showing that with the culture today, people need to belong to the space first, or to belong to a group of people who invite them to that space. People used to believe before they belonged to a church, now they need to feel they belong to the space or people before they are inclined to come inside the church or believe. People need to feel welcome.”
In addition to the café, changes include multi-use spaces, an improved children’s play area, an open-air space called ‘the Well’ that features a large water fountain wall, and other inviting spaces for people of all ages to enjoy.
“We aren’t adding square footage,” Jon said. “We were very creative in the way we made previously uninviting, unusable, and unattractive spaces into very open, usable, flexible and welcoming spaces. You need to come and see.”
Services are March 18 at 5:30 p.m., and Sunday March 19 at 8, 9:30 and 11:11 a.m.
For further information, visit sapres.org.
Cindy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.