A “hub” for Benton Heights

Space for simple connections and meaningful relationships and service opportunities for new families

High-quality, faith-shaping environments and experiences for children

An area to serve and reach the community


No bank branches, health facilities, meeting spaces, grocery stores or laundry services in Benton Heights

No clear, identifiable point of entry

No spaces to effectively engage with weekend visitors or weekday community

Hard-to-find, outdated, small kids spaces


Families in Benton Heights continue to struggle, and their pursuit of betterment is stifled

Young families look elsewhere; or stop looking altogether, and drift away

Miss opportunities to influence our community



A safe, clean, attractive hub for Benton Heights residents to

  • access wrap-around services
  • connect to one another and the Church


  • A prominent, clearly identifiable Niles Avenue-facing entry
  • A large, multi-use community lobby with bright, welcoming interior
  • Signage and technology upgrades


  • New, colorful directional signage Upgrades to paint and carpets
  • Technology for enhanced worship and teaching experiences.
  • Space redesign and expansion planning


  • Basic human dignity
  • Hope for a better future with opportunities
  • A place for connection and conversation
  • A growing community morale in Benton Heights
  • A tool for easy engagement and connection on weekends
  • A 3rd place for the community to work, recharge or connect with us, Mon – Fri
  • A center to host events for business leaders and the community
  • Clear, engaging means to more easily navigate our buildings
  • Unparalleled children’s facilities
  • Compelling kids environments for teaching and worship
  • Resources to address longer term space deficiencies in kids’ areas


Please click below if you would like to fill out a digital commitment card.


If you were unable to attend one of our Vision Nights, we would love to share our vision with you. Click the button below to view the presentation from Vision Night.


When do we intend to break ground/begin building

Once we have financial commitments in hand to cover the cost of each of the various vision lanes, our intent is to proceed with each one.


What is the priority or sequence of each of the vision lanes?

Due to the number of outside grants already received from community partners, the relatively manageable level of financial commitment from First Church, and the degree of design work already completed, we anticipate proceeding with the Hub in Benton Heights first.  Assuming sufficient commitments, we would anticipate proceeding with the new entry/atrium and kids’ ministry enhancements, in that order.  However, we expect we could move forward on each of these vision elements fairly quickly, one right after the other (i.e. months versus years).

Will we be going into debt to fund this project?

It is not our intent to incur long-term debt (e.g. a mortgage) to complete any of the phases of this initiative.  However, rather than let pieces of the project sit in a partially finished state and/or incur increased construction costs by waiting too long to build, we would consider either drawing on our existing financial reserves or securing a short-term construction loan to keep the pieces of the project moving.

What is the total cost of the initiative? How much of the total project cost is being dedicated to each vision lane?

The total cost of the initiative is expected to be about $2.5 million.  $250,000 each for the Benton Heights Hub and Kids Ministry Enhancements and $2 million dollars for the New Entry/Atrium and  for some related renovations to the Family Life Center (to tie those two areas together – new and existing – in aesthetically appropriate ways.)

What is the total cost of the hub in Benton Heights

About $1 million dollars.  75% of which is being funded from other sources, such as corporate and community partners, and 25% from First Church’s, “For The Net One” Initiative.

More information about our corporate and community partners available upon request.

How and by whom will the Benton Heights Hub be managed and operated?

The Benton Heights Hub will managed through our separate nonprofit New Heights Christian Community Development Association under the leadership of Chris Britton. It would be the intent of the CCDA to provide jobs to local residents to help operate various aspects of the Hub (e.g. laundry facilities). There would be some cost for use of the various facilities at the Hub to offset or underwrite its costs of operating and give those who use those facilities some “skin in the game.”

How much has been committed to the initiative to-date?

Over $1 million has been committed to-date from advance commitments.

Why do we need to add the new entry/atrium at the St. Joe Campus?

There is no clearly identifiable point of entry for people unfamiliar with our campus. Additionally, our current building design does not provide spaces and traffic patterns that make it easy for our those who are new to First Church and the community to naturally connect with us and with one another.  These deficiencies project a rather unwelcoming tone to anyone who isn’t already part of First Church, making us appear colder and harder to get to know that we believe we are and want to be.  We believe the Lord would have us do better, that we can do better.  This new tool will help us do that.

What will be some of the key features or benefits of the new atrium/entry?

Large, bright, open spaces to gather, meet others, and meet us. Spaces, facilities, and resources to better welcome and engage the St. Joe and Berrien County communities and their citizens and leaders. We will also be making some updates and upgrades to the Life Center to seamlessly tie in this existing space with the new atrium/entry.

Our children’s spaces seem great to me. What is it about them that we need to enhance?

We have a great children’s ministry staff at all three of our campuses who convey to families, “Your kids matter to us and to God.”  Unfortunately, our kids’ spaces at each of these campuses are not always conveying that same message.  Refreshing paint schemes, replacing older carpets, modernizing technology, adding clarifying signage to help families find their way, and beginning some immediate (where possible) and longer-term redesign of spaces will help us send a better message to new families through our kids’ spaces and experiences.

How will we address tying in a new entry with an older more traditional looking design in the existing parts of the St. Joe campus?

We are working with our designers and builder on options to harmonize our existing entrance on the northeast side of the building with a prominent new one still being designed.  A number of these options have been and will be explored before any definitive decisions are made regarding how best to accomplish our intent.

What has happened to the money that I’ve continued to give toward the last capital campaign?

About $30,000 have been given in excess of what it took to complete the components of our prior capital campaign – the
Benton Heights worship center and the New Heights Auto Services ministry. These monies have been kept in
reserve (versus going into the general budget) for subsequent campaign initiatives. Now that we have launched
“For The Next One” these monies will be dedicated to this initiative.