Senior Writer-Editor, Michigan Area
The Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo, situated on the campus of Western Michigan University, announces the receipt of a $560,000 grant from the John C. Lasko Foundation.
The Rev. Lisa Batten, Director of Wesley of Kalamazoo, says that the grant will allow the campus ministry to come closer to reaching their financial goals for the new Ministry Center. “”Receiving the news of the Lasko Grant was amazing!” Lisa recalls. “I was so excited I started crying and laughing and shouting. The representative from Lasko said she had never had a pastor react quite like that before and we both laughed.” Batten calls the grant “a huge affirmation of the five years of planning, working, praying and discerning.”
John C. Lasko was a business owner from Midland, MI who founded the Republic Tool and Die Company. The Mission Statement of the John C. Lasko Foundation states that the “Trust was established to build churches that will last forever and will never deviate or change from God’s mission.” Grants from the Lasko Foundation are exclusively for the construction of worship space.
Students have been praying, praising and living their faith in the present building on Wilbur Avenue since 1964. Five years ago Western Michigan University made an offer to buy that facility. After much prayer and conversation the Wesley Board made the decision to
sell the building and move 1,250 feet to a new location on Rankin Avenue. The final worship service on the Wilbur site will be held on February 28, 2016.”That’s when we will say, ‘Goodbye,’ to our old digs,” Lisa says. atten, along with Wesley Board Member Deb Lindstrom, started work on the grant in 2015. Phase 1 of the application process focused on the question, “Why do you need a new sanctuary?” An Open House and Worship Service will be held in the new Ministry Center on March 11, 3-7 pm. Why?
When Wesley at Kalamazoo moved on to Phase 2 of the application process on December 1, Batten submitted additional information regarding architecture, construction and finance. As the weeks passed, the building continued:
- On December 3, a big crane lifted roof trusses into place. Mild weather allowed the project to stay on track;
- By December 22, the crew was laying brick and preparing for the windows to be installed along with other important jobs to get the building enclosed;
- In January weather became wintery but construction continues. More bricks have been placed; an electrical crew is busy; decisions are being made on interior finishes.
While the Lasko grant helps significantly in the homestretch of funding the Wesley Student Ministry Center, contributions by individuals, alumni and churches are still needed. The project goal is $1.3 million; there’s $68,500 yet to raise. Those wishing to make a pledge or donation can write a check payable to the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo; mail to 2101 Wilbur Avenue, Kalamazoo MI 49006. Or phone 269.344.4076 with questions.
“I am feeling so thankful for the many hands that worked to make the grant possible, including the board of directors, conference treasurer’s office, Inform Architecture, AVB Construction Management, and the Wesley Staff,” Lisa concludes. “This was not a lone ranger project but the people of God working together. We all have renewed energy and are excited to stay the course to finish the fund raising.”