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First Covenant poised to expand

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First Covenant Church, 1374 N. Main St., is gearing up to raise about $2.2 million for a building program that includes a new worship center, remodeled entry and secure nursery check-in.

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Pastor Todd Ertsgaard says the new facilities are needed to accommodate growth in both Sunday service attendance and participation in weekly youth and other activities.

The new 450-seat worship center continues the vision of a long-range plan that began in 1994 with construction of the congregation's current facilities.

"We are very grateful for the steady growth in our ministries, but this has also pressed our current facilities' capacity," says Ertsgaard, lead pastor since 2006.

Noting that the current multi-purpose room is used for Sunday services, AWANA children's gatherings, weddings, funerals, receptions, banquets and other activities, Ertsgaard says that the current situation is putting limits on the worship experience as well as on children, youth and adult ministry outreach.

"We are doing the best we can with the current building," Ertsgaard says, "but, over the years as we have prayed and planned, we have come to recognize that we can serve both the congregation and our community better with expanded facilities."

Official launch of the campaign, "On the Journey: Building Generations," was April 15.

A 40-person stewardship team has already been working for two months with TLC Ministries, a capital campaign consulting firm, to set the stage for the upcoming campaign.

A variety of stewardship presentations are planned for the next few weeks and will conclude with a celebration event May 6.

"We love this church," says Mary Wilkening, co-director of the campaign. "We love the people, the pastors, the impact First Covenant has had on our family and children. We are so looking forward to seeing how the congregation responds to this opportunity to build on what we already have and will be able to offer for generations into the future."

Depending on the outcome of the capital campaign, Ertsgaard says that construction could begin as soon as Fall 2012.

"This has been a long-term process with steps of faith along the way that have culminated in this exciting time," he says. "We are on a journey to reach and develop generations of people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. I think this campaign is an important part of that journey."

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